Saturday, October 02, 2010

An Introduction to "Monsters: the imagination of faith and fear" PART IV

Live boldly

That's what this book is about. Not the promise to conquer every fear, but the promise to conquer yourself and live boldly in the face of fear.

This is something I had to teach my son. Jacob was woefully afraid of monsters when he was younger. Having been unwisely introduced to vampires by a distant relative, Jacob used to lay awake at night in his room scared stiff with fear that he would be eaten in his sleep. The only way he would ever calm down was for me to climb into bed with him, hold him tight, and promise to protect him from all harm.

Dave McDonald, Vampire Slayer.

Despite my assurances that vampires were not going to attack him in the night, Jacob continued to be terrified unless I was with him. He imagined hordes of slathering, biting, minions scrambling up the vinyl-siding of our home and cutting open his bedroom window with their elongated fingernails.

In his mind, my son was under the heat lamp of a ghoul's buffet.

I despaired that Jake would ever get over his fear. Night after night I tried to reason with him, but to no avail. After exhausting every argument or line of rationality I could conjure, I decided to try another tact. I told Jacob about the sovereign power of Christ.

I don't mean to imply that I taught him theology in the strictest sense, or read bits of the Bible to him. Oh no, I acted out the confrontations between Jesus and the powers of this world. I told him (age-appropriate versions) stories of Christ and devils, of Jesus defeating the powers of darkness, of the final collision between Yahweh and the Satan, and of Christ's wonderful power to work miracles. I gave Jake a robust vision of the awesome power of his Savior.

And do you know what he said to me?

Daddy. You don't need to sleep with me anymore, because Jesus keeps the monsters away.

Jesus keeps the monsters away.

Yes he does.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Isaiah 43.1b-3a

What we need, more than techniques or tools or time-honored prayers, is a grounded understanding that "greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world."

We need to know that God is with us, and that Jesus keeps the monsters away.

Over the next few pages we will explore how false gods can be de-throned, how the monsters can be de-clawed, how the apocalyptic beasts can be de-powered, and how the idolatrous monsters we make can be destroyed.

We will learn eventual and persistent fearlessness,
and immediate and lasting courage.

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