April 11, 2006

Fear Not

1511 page31 caphe dark was penetrating. Soaking into everything around it. Raking narled black fingers through the dim light in the foyer. I soundlessly descended the steps in breathless curiosity. I had been asleep, alone in the house, when a noise on the front stoop had awakened me. With a preternatural sense I knew something was not quite right. I also knew I had to confront whatever it was.
Someone was outside, among the shadows. No, huddled in the dark pools behind bushes and trees and cars were several individuals. And just as I knew they had amassed outside my home, I also knew they were armed.
I opened the door as a figure emerged from the bushes. A shaggy-haired man used one hand to gesture; the other was poised inside his blazer. He started to explain why he and his colleagues were here to “see” me, but I already knew. My heart raced, and my brain sprinted ahead to come up with an argument, a plea, for the killers to leave me alone--and alive. I took a labored, gasping breath and . . .
. . . Woke up sweaty and disoriented. Kicking the comforter off my feet, I rolled over and looked at my bedside clock: 12:30 a.m. My softly snoring husband was rolled up in a sheet next to me. The video monitor on the nightstand showed my toddler daughter squeezed into a corner of her crib. Sound asleep.
What a dream! I thought as I stretched back out. As with most of my dreams, the images had been very vivid, and fairly believable. But one thing was different: even as I dreamed this horrific experience knowing it wasn’t real, the fear was deeply real, almost tangible. I have never felt such choking fear in my life and would prefer never to feel something so raw and powerful again. And yet, in an odd way, I am glad I had the experience (especially only in a dream!).
1511 page31Bad things happen. It is inevitable that everyone, sooner or later, will be touched in some way by tragedy. It is also inevitable that people will experience fear. This includes the worst kind of fear for many: the terror and deep dread that fill us when things spiral beyond our ability to keep them in check and in order. We know the outcome will be disastrous, and we are unable to remedy this with our own skills. That is one reason why my incredible experience has been helpful. It reinforces for me that God is the only being who can conquer fear. Who does conquer fear for His children, and who will conquer fear utterly and eternally.
My dream probably has roots in the fact that I had recently begun to realize I cannot control everything in my child’s life. As she asserts herself more each day I am slowly losing the tight control I once maintained on her, and as my husband and I prepare to welcome another child into the world in a couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can prepare my children to meet the world with all its evil and sadness. Somewhat anxiously, I am starting to grasp the concept that I cannot protect them from everything, even themselves. But at least I can impart some knowledge.
After my morbid dream I came across two texts that have helped me rely on God. The first is Psalm 20:7, 9: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. . . . Save, Lord: let the king hear us when we call” (KJV). The second text is from Isaiah 43:1-3: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. . . . When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God” (NIV).
Yes, I can live and share the counsel found in the Bible. Yes, I can help my children through some of the difficulties they’ll encounter. And yes, I can (and will) pray for them.
And while I may yet experience more suffocating horror (in dreams and reality) I know that Christ can take the controls--and remove the choking fingers of fear so that I am able to meet challenges with His assured peace.
Kimberly Luste Maran, in addition to being an avid dreamer, is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review.