“Are we going in there with the dead people?” Chase, 4 1/2, whispered.
“Why are we parked here?” Six-year old Cole asked loudly.
“Let’s just go in and walk around.” I tried not to chuckle. The fear in their voices was like a 4th passenger in the truck.
We were at the front entrance of a picturesque local cemetery. I wanted to talk about the lives marked within the cemetery’s metal gates as well as compare and contrast their simpler lives with our present day abundance and physical blessings. It was a beautiful day and I thought we could walk around and practice addition and subtraction with years lived and also practice reading the names and information carved on the headstones.
I grew up near a small family cemetery in Connecticut. I walked through that centuries-old, unkempt graveyard dozens of times with my sister and childhood friends. My imagination went wild inside the Bradley Lane cemetery. I believed its rusty black gates held in myriad secrets and I wanted to discover them all. I loved reading the names and years of their lives and the poignant messages carved into the headstones. What was life like for them 100 years ago? I was fascinated by those who came before me and the solid, etched evidence of their lives.
It was all very intriguing, and I thought it would be a cool learning experience for my boys.
“Don’t make us go in there!” Cole’s voice was two octaves higher.
I glanced around the flower-dotted headstones, the park-like setting with sprawling oak trees and sunlight streaming through the branches. It looked perfectly harmless.
“Mom, the dead people are going to dig us down with them!” Chase yelped.
Where did my 4 year old get that idea? We’re strict about their TV viewing. Other than a few Scooby Doo episodes, they haven’t watched scary movies or many spooky shows. I explained people buried here weren’t ghosts and their souls weren’t with their earthly bodies. There was no danger amidst the graves.
My boys didn’t agree.
They continued to protest loudly. My commonsense words of reassurance weren’t easing their near-terror, so I gave up and headed home. I shook my head at their irrational fear. Children…
But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let it pass.
That’s you, I heard in my heart.
I saw myself as I’d been too many times…quaking in fear…my heart racing from anxiety…my life stalled from irrational worry…NOT trusting in God.
That is me. Forgive my sinful fear and worry, Lord. It undermines my faith in You.
Sometimes fear is well-founded and useful. After all, I want my children to have a realistic fear of strangers, a cautious fear of high or dangerous places, and a soul-deep, love-filled fear of their Creator. We are never to bring God down to our level; we should be filled with a fearful, awed reverence of the Most High God, knowing He loved us enough to bridge the gap between Himself and us with Jesus’ sacrifice.
My boys’ irrational fear – and the realization and repentance of sinful worry in my life – reminded me of a powerful statement about fear and worry in God’s Word. Moses was nearing the end of his life and handing over leadership of the Israelites to Joshua. Talk about fear and worry! Can you imagine how Joshua felt?
What big shoes – sandals – to fill!
But Moses exhorted Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed” (Deut. 31:7 & 8, emphasis mine).
God’s Word reassures throughout its pages. Psalm 27: 1 asks, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
In a season of fear or worry, remember God’s promise to Joshua: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
There is no grave danger we face in life that’s too much for God.