I woke up with the feeling that someone was in my room. I turned over and about a foot from my face stood my four year old daughter.
Once my heartbeat returned to normal, I checked the clock. It was 3:30AM.
Tabitha was shaking and whimpering.
“Sweetie, lets go into the bathroom so you don’t wake up daddy,” I said.
Tab wasn’t moving too readily, so I scooped her up and helped her use the potty – sometimes the sensation of having to use the bathroom will evoke a bad dream.
She calmed down a little bit and asked for “belly medicine” – that is, a Tums.
“Tab, I can give you a Tums – but I don’t know if that will solve the problem,” I said.
“WHY? What’s wrong with me?” she asked and started to cry again.
“Well, it’s just that you seem upset,” I said. “What’s are you thinking about?”
“I’m so so so afraid that bad guys are going to come into our house and get us.”
I gave her a big hug and soaked a wash cloth in warm water and washed her face. “I did lock up all the doors and windows downstairs and the house alarm is on – I do that every night. So, it’d be hard for anyone to get into our house. But, you know, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for someone to break in if they didn’t care about being caught…. not that we have anything of value.”
That’s the honest truth. I’m not going to lie.
I put Tabitha back into her bed. She pulled her covers up, over her nose and her hazel-green eyes darted all over the place in fear.
“Tabitha, please listen to mommy, okay? In Bible, in Proverbs 15 , God tells us that His eyes are in every place watching over everything. Do you know what this means?”
“That He can see me, right?”
“Yes, just like He can see every spot in our house. Remember, He can even see daddy when daddy’s in Japan and see you at the same time, right?”
“Because He is God,” she said in a very matter-of-fact tone.
“Yes, because He is God. The cool thing is that this means that you don’t have to be looking all around room for bad guys because God’s doing the looking for you. The Bible also tells us in >Psalm 121 that God, who made this whole earth, never ever sleeps. God’s watching over you even while you’re sleeping.”
I noticed the covers were slowly moving towards her chest and were no longer shielding her face.
I leaned over, brushed aside her dark brown hair and kissed her forehead. I took one of her hands and held it with both of mine, as if to give it a reassuring hug.
“Tabitha, we have a choice to be controlled by fear or to be controlled by our trust in God. You know what control means, right?”
“Yeah – to be bossed around.”
Sure, that worked.
“Yep. Kinda like that. When we’re bossed around by fear, our tummies hurt, we worry about things – like bad guys or monsters or people in our family getting lost or hurt. We get so worked up and so upset that we can’t sleep.
When we spend time trying thinking about if every window is locked or when we try look to every in corner of our rooms, we are not trusting God to do His job. And you know what? There’s no way, even if we tried really really hard, to see in every corner of our house at the same time – it’s impossible.”
I continued, “You know what honey?”
“Adults get controlled by their fears, too, when they don’t trust in God. Their tummies hurt, they can’t sleep, and sometimes they can’t even eat they’re so controlled by being afraid. It’s not just kids who have this problem.
Do you remember your swimming lessons last year?”
“What did you have to do to float on your back?” I asked.
“I had to hold really still and relax.”
“Yes. And, you had to trust that the water was going to hold you up, right?”
“What happened if you tried to hold yourself up and you started thrashing your arms and legs?”
“Then I’d sink.”
“Yes! And when we trusting in God, our soul can relax and be at peace – just like how our bodies relax in the pool in order to float. We have to hold still and trust that the water will hold us up. I want you to put your head on your pillow and trust that God is going to hold you up. I want you to relax and picture yourself floating in your pool, and instead of being afraid, I want you to think instead about God doing His job and watching over you.”
“Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for being who you are and that your eyes are in every place, even in every corner of our house. Help Tabitha and mommy to trust you to do your job of watching over every place. Help us to be able to sleep knowing that you never ever sleep. Help us not to try to do your job for you – because that will only make our tummies hurt and will make us worry even more. No matter how hard we try, we can never be like you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, even for our sin of worrying when we need to be trusting in you. Help Tabitha’s tummy to feel better and help her to get the sleep she needs. Please comfort her her and give her strength to turn her fears over to you. Thank you for giving me this sweet little girl, who has taught me so much about my own walk with you. In your name, Amen.”
“Amen,” she said.
She put her arms out as if she was floating in a pool, closed her eyes, and fell fast asleep.
Bear with me as I tell another story:
Our movie theater plays second-run movies for free on “family days”. Once, during a family day, I was sitting in the theater watching a short film – The Madagascar Penguins in: A Christmas Caper - which played before the opening credits of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The theater was packed with children and their parents. I could overhear the ladies in the row behind me talking:
“After the movie, I have to go get my glasses fixed. Can you run over there with me before lunch? It should just take a moment,” one lady said to the other.
“Sure. No problem. I have no plans after this. How did you break your glasses?” her friend asked.
“I’m a little embarrassed to admit this,” she explained. “I have this fear that something will happen in the night and that I won’t be able to see to find my way around. I have really bad vision. I can’t sleep in my contacts. So, I wear my glasses to bed. They keep getting broken, but I don’t know what else to do.”
My heart ached for this poor lady. She was controlled by her fear! She could not rest. It was impossible to turn around and lean over to talk to her, as I was holding Micah, who was less than a year old, on my lap. He was quite fussy, and I ended up walking up and down the theater aisle with him while my older four children intently watched the movie.
When our fears control us, we do silly things like sleeping with our glasses on. Our souls are not at peace.
When we respond to our fears by trying to take on the attributes of God – like, for example, omniscience and omnipresence – we will be plagued by restlessness. We think we are taking control by thinking about all the possible precautions against robbers (and there is no harm in being responsible in locking our house – so long as our trust and hope is in the Lord and not in a deadbolt) breaking in or by staying awake and looking in every place. Yet, in reality, instead of controlling the situation, we become controlled and enslaved by fear.
Omnipresence and omniscience aren’t the only attributes of God that we are tempted to take on.
We try to control situations by demanding perfect justice when we are wronged. We refuse to believe that the Holy Spirit can and is working in the hearts of men. We sacrifice relationships because people do not meet our expectations.
We try to be self-sufficient – planning for ever possible circumstance or by refusing help when really need it. We judge people who can’t get it together . We miss out on being blessed by God through others.
We want to live eternally and try to keep from aging by devoting ourselves to a regimen of exercise, antioxidants and vitamins, and wrinkle creams. Or, we freak out in the car when our two year old climbs our of his car seat, fearing he’ll be instantly killed unless that seatbelt is fastened.
We try to be perfect and good and never sin on our own accord. Instead, we become self-righteous. We are controlled by what others think of us and keeping up the image of perfection rather than trusting in Christ for our salvation. We know deep down that we are fakes. We worry that God knows this and is out to get us.
We try to love our spouses unconditionally by our own strength and end up putting conditions on the relationship. We end up suffocating our spouses and destroying our marriages.
When we try to be God, we will always fail. We will quickly grow weary, and our souls will not be at peace. We feel the burden of the ultimate sin of pride when we think that we can do God’s job better than He can.
The Bible says, in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
How freeing it is to submit to the rule of the Creator of the Universe – who actually loves and cares about us! – rather than be ruled by our fears! We are no longer weighted down by our sin. We are free. We can live at peace.
If you find yourself not sleeping, or if you feel like something in your life is a burden to you, ask yourself, “Am I trying to take on God’s job instead of trusting in Him?”
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” – Victor Hugo
About the Author
Sarah Albrecht said she’d follow her husband Tom to the ends of the earth. He called her bluff, and they moved from their house in Pennsylvania to live by the sea in northern Japan. They homeschool their five progeny, all born after 2001. Sarah studied journalism at Taylor University and has been published in Advanced Christian Writer, Nolan Chart, and Writer’s Journal. She teaches the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, loves people, writes for fun and thinks about God constantly. All Saints Presbyterian Church in Akron, PA, is her home church. You can find her blog at http://sarahjoyalbrecht.com or follow her @mrsalbrecht on Twitter.
This article was originally published at http://www.sarahjoyalbrecht.com/2007/04/24/god-is-awake/. All rights reserved by Sarah Joy Albrecht. Reprinted with the author's permission.