March 18, 2009

Monsters Do Exist, But God is Bigger

edge of my bed as I positioned myself directly in the middle of the mattress. While I knew there wasn’t anything under the bed, I still took the precaution of making sure nothing could sneak in, reach up from the floor, and drag me down because it had sensed me when I ventured too close to the edge.
I was tired after an activity-filled day. Saying my prayers, I listened to night sounds. Soon I drifted off to sleep in my protected groove. That night the monsters didn’t come. They stayed away.
Inevitably, though, they came back. The assurances of my mother, while a comfort, failed to completely annihilate my skepticism and fear. On more than one night for years to come the demons of my dreams did not stay away, and it wasn’t until my childhood years passed that I truly believed that monsters weren’t real.
The scary creatures that haunted my sleep weren’t real, but I learned that there’s another brand of evil that is all too real—and now that I have my own children I wonder how I can explain. No, there isn’t a monster lurking in the darkened hallway, but yes, there may be a monster living in the house next door. No, a monster isn’t going to climb out of your closet once the light is switched off, but yes, someone who became a monster did kill your best friend. No, there isn’t a monster peering in from the dark outdoors, but yes, there are monsters lurking around the carousel at the mall.
2009 1508 page6Yes, monsters exist, and they may actually be worse than imagined.
Ellen White wrote: “There are multitudes today as truly under the power of evil spirits as was the demoniac of Capernaum. All who willfully depart from God’s commandments are placing themselves under the control of Satan. Many a man tampers with evil, thinking that he can break away at pleasure; but he is lured on and on, until he finds himself controlled by a will stronger than his own” (The Faith I Live By, p. 312).
How can I explain? How can I protect? A teddy bear, a night-light, a security blanket—these may work for a time. But when and how do I teach them what to truly dread, and how to go about girding themselves?
I don’t have all the answers—or even most of them. But I do know that I cannot shield my children from the truth. Yes, monsters and evil exist. So does God. And He’s bigger.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:7, 8, KJV).
“Satan is the god of the world; his influence is to pervert the senses, control the human mind for evil, and drive his victims to violence and crime,” White explains. “The work of Christ is to break his power over the children of men. . . . The closer we are to God, the safer we are, for Satan hates and fears the presence of God” (ibid.).
We must not be ignorant of Satan’s tactics, which include the people he uses. But we can take heart in the aforementioned verse. Maintaining a close relationship with Jesus, full with prayer and the pursuit of godly things, will protect us—even when we do encounter monsters. We may—no, we will—be hurt, but we will still be protected. And we’ll be healed. Because God is bigger.
My children, your children, need to know this. It is up to us to tell them.

Kimberly Luste Maran is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review.