Death and darkness seem to be everywhere. I find myself wanting to pull my children close and bar the doors and windows. Abortion, shootings, sex trafficking, abuse, abandonment, rioting, anger, all-encompassing hate… These repulsive monsters seem to be slithering into the corners of our homes to devour the weakest and most vulnerable of us. The terrifying reality is that all of us are weak and vulnerable. No one is able to overcome this darkness. I want to weep and I also want to rage against the suffering that is all around.
I’ve been thinking lately about a painting that used to hang in the spare room of my grandma’s house. There’s a good chance your grandma also had a copy as it was the decorative trend in the 1950’s among evangelical families. Hans Zatska was the artist who painted it for postcards in 1918, calling it The Guardian.
I remember laying in the spare room at night after my grandma tucked me in and staring at this painting. In the amber glow of the night light that she always left on for me, it almost felt as though I was walking across the bridge with those barefoot, Dutch children. The dark corners of the room on either side of me seemed to close in as I focused on the angel. I would close my eyes tight as shivers of fear ran through my spine. Then I would call for my grandma to come in and tell me one more time about how God sends his angels to watch over little children, which of course, she always would with great expression and complete confidence.
My grandma is with the angels and Jesus now. She is safe from all darkness. She has overcome death. Though I wish sometimes I could hear her steady voice tell me again about Jesus and his love and care for me, I understand now that it is God’s love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
My grandma’s confidence in Jesus always pointed me to him and every time she did, I could feel the light and glory of God at work in my soul. She had a way of expressing the truth about Jesus that confirmed what I already knew in my heart to be true…
Jesus is the light and the darkness cannot overwhelm him.
I am holding tighter to that truth these days. It is my steady voice that now calms the fear of the darkness for my children. While darkness and death threaten to overwhelm us - they never will. Darkness is held at bay and we are kept from the evil one. This is the prayer of Jesus, and the truth of his words right before he walked into the darkness and death of the cross.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him…Holy Father, keep them in your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17).
Jesus is still praying these things for us. As the Son of God, he has the authority to do so. He has come to give us “life abundantly” (John 10:10) and that life “was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) Jesus is “the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
The prayer to keep us is not about our physical safety. In fact, we all will face death physically. Jesus’ prayer is about our trust in God. Jesus is praying that the Father will keep us faithful to him while we are living in the darkness. It is not physical harm that the enemy is trying to accomplish, it is distrust of the Father. This was his goal in the first garden when the dark words, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil”, gushed from his decaying tongue. He lustily drew Eve into the darkness by inviting her to believe that she could be like God, oh and by the way, “did God actually say…?”. Is God really trustworthy? Open your eyes, Eve! Why would a good God keep you from this tasty tree? Unless he is holding out. Keeping something better for himself, perhaps? “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew…” (Genesis 3:7).
Enter darkness and death…and the stench that has followed in its wake.
The greatest danger for us and our children is the lie that there is something in the darkness that is more trustworthy than God. While I fear for my children’s safety, and have since they were nestled cozy in my womb, my greatest fear is that they would be lured by that same vile snake. My mission as a mother is to shine light in the darkness by daily reminding them of God’s faithfulness and of his great love that sent Jesus to the cross on their behalf. I remind them daily of the good Shepherd who has lain down his life for them.
Fearful Momma, in those moments when you feel overcome by this dark world, your only hope is to do what Eve in that dreadful moment failed to do - trust the Father’s love. Read Jesus’ prayer in John 17 and remember these three truths.,
Jesus is praying for us - that is his full-time job until he comes to get us.
Jesus has already overcome the darkness on our behalf.
Jesus has prayed that we would remain in this dark world so that we may shine his light, that is now inside us, so that those little ones who are still wandering in the dark can find their way to him.
We are tempted to avoid the darkness because it is scary. We are tempted to insulate our children from the darkness in order to keep them safe. The truth is that we can do neither. The darkness is everywhere…even inside our own hearts. We have no power of our own to protect our children from this darkness. Thankfully, we have the greater power of the Spirit, not to hide, but to shine light into the darkness. The Spirit grants us power to trust God and to live faithfully for his purpose and mission.
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:4-8
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
I am praying that we will give light to all who are in our house! Stay faithful to the mission, Dear Momma!
For further study and encouragement read: John 14-17