Facing the Fear of the Unknown: Punching Holes in Your Darkness

Who doesn't love a good story? Not only do I love HEARING a good story, but I also LOVE capturing the attention of an audience that is all ears with an engaging tale.  So, grab a cup of piping hot coffee, set back, and listen as I recall the particulars of one of my favorite stories!!

This is the story of a young girl, Mimi Wilson, who was born to American parents, but found herself living in the jungles of Africa. You see, her mom and dad, along with her grandparents, had left the North American continent and traveled across the ocean to serve as missionaries. While Mimi loved her life in this country, she found herself on one occasion, long after the sun had set, in a dark and lush African jungle with her grandmother.  The only light that cut through that thick black veil came in a small stream from the lantern held in her grandmother's able and extended hand.  At first, Mimi and her grandmother chatted incessantly and joyfully as they walked along the path.  Oh, but then Mimi made a startling discovery...She couldn't see anything ahead of her!  Yes, suddenly the sounds of the jungle night closed in around her and echoed with frightening shrieks.  Across the screen of her mind flashed visions of venomous spiders and snakes and flesh-eating beasts of all kinds.  So, Mimi did what any normal, logical, and terror-stricken gal of any age would do—SHE PANICKED! Oh, yes, dear friends, she froze in her tracks!!  But her grandmother, the one who held the source of light, didn't.  She calmly asked, "Mimi, what's the problem?"  Mimi responded with as much emotion as she could muster, "I'm too afraid to go on!"  And so, her grandmother gently and lovingly placed the lantern on the ground and asked Mimi if there was anything she could see that was frightening.  As Mimi studied the circle of light illumined by the lantern, she concluded that all was well within the circle.  BUT Mimi wasn't quite sure whether or not what fell beyond those circular borders was safe.  And so, Mimi's grandmother walked a few steps beyond, drawing her beloved grandchild close to her side.  Once again, with the same tenderness as before, and with not even a hint of impatience, she placed the lantern on the ground.  "Mimi, are you frightened by what you see here?"  Finally, Mimi was beginning to grasp her grandmother’s message to her!

Ahhhhhhhhh, beloved ones, isn't God like that?  Each time we move forward, He will light the way, but the future remains in HIS able and trustworthy hands and is often concealed until we get there.  We want to keep moving forward—to lay hold of HIS promises.  To turn and go back is to face the darkness from which HE has delivered us. Can we truly confront the fear of the unknown and trust our God?  HIS Word has declared that we can, and each path covered with a blackened veil provides us with another opportunity to lay hold of HIS trustworthiness.  So, the real question is—“Will we choose to trust God?”  King David declared his trust and stood on God’s promised faithfulness in Psalm 27:1 when he penned, “The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?" 

And yet, is this decision to trust the unknown to a knowing God contingent upon us being in possession of all the facts? Absolutely not! Instead, it is contingent upon a determination to step out in faith rather than to sit on our fearful feelings. Go with me to a scene from the book of Joshua where the children of Israel had been given a promise of a homeland, yet a river of doubts separated them from realizing its fulfillment. And so, how could they, and how can we, find victory over this fear of the unknown? Joshua 3:13 records, “And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—SET FOOT in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand in a heap.” Yes, dear friends, our mighty God invites us to step out in faith and rivers of opportunity will open up a path to HIS perfect will!

In conclusion, when Robert Louis Stevenson—the beloved author—was a child, he was fascinated by the lamplighter who walked the streets lighting the old-fashioned gas street lamps. With his small face pinned to his window, he cried, “Oh, look, Nana. There’s a man punching holes in the darkness!” Indeed, the lion and tigers and bears aren’t what we usually fear; but it’s the prodigals, nickels and dimes, and life and death issues that grip us with terror. So, dear readers, the next time something goes bump in the night, let's run to the ONE who will punch holes in the darkness of the unknown.