When I was a little girl, my brother and I dug a hole and covered it with leaves in the backyard. Then, and I truly cringe even thinking about it, we walked our babysitter across it, causing her to twist her ankle and bringing a barrage of deserved consequences down on our wicked little selves when our parents came home. It’s been over 30 years ago and I still see it all clearly, she was unsuspecting, unable to see that the ground was not solid, that the leaves were just a thin cover disguising what was underneath: a hole.
In 2011, I was crawling out of a 3 year haze of fertility treatments that had culminated in a devastating loss signaling the end of the line for us. I was exhausted. I was empty in every sense. The halls that the Lord had filled with his grace and truth and love during those 3 years seemed eerily silent as I called out to him and heard no answer. With great stealth, lies snuck in, whispering words of doubt, “You can’t trust Him after all,” and, “This situation here isn’t ‘working together for good’ and you know it. This is just bad bad bad.” Instead of arming myself against such thoughts, I warily eyed them and eventually watched them trickle into a hole that was growing deeper in my weary and raw heart. It was into that environment that anxiety roared in, unexpected and fierce, ratcheting up my general propensity to be a low grade worrier to a level of apprehension that I couldn’t shake, a sense of dread and fearfulness that chased me constantly.
Anxiety to this extent was so foreign and so out of my control that I was certain it had no root in me. It seemed to come from outside of me, churning and rushing at me, bringing panic and stress. I loathed it, I felt like I was suffocating in its grip. I tried medication for “situational anxiety” and had no success. I hit dead end after dead end.
Finally, because of His great mercy and love, the Lord met me in his Word and I saw that the anxiousness wasn’t coming from outside of me of me after all, but inside. It was merely a cover, a thick and camouflaging cover that was stretched across the top of the deep hole that had grown and filled with those lies I had fell into months before. The lies reached up and punched against the leaves of anxiety, pushing up vines that twirled and choked, twisting possibilities of loss, sickness and fear that were strangling me.
Jesus stepped into that tangled mess of lies, of sinful thoughts, of mistrust, of darkness. The Light that had come into this world swept aside the blanket of rotting leaves and stepped into the deepest darkest hole of my spirit. He invaded the space where doubt, fear, disappointment and mistrust had conceived sin and peeled back each layer. He loved me fiercely in those months, fought for me, forgave and healed and restored and comforted.
As the years have passed, I have learned to be on the lookout for mushroomy growth beneath rustling leaves of anxiousness. When I look, the light of Christ is there. His goodness is good and unshakeable even when I speculate in my deepest heart that He is not. His trustworthiness is pure and unshakable even when I speculate in my deepest heart that He can’t be trusted. When the leaves rustle, and they still do, I dig my heels into the solid ground of His Word and find again and again that it does not give way. The Light shines (through the leaves) in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.