My daughter had polka-dotted sheets when she was little. I never imagined those polka dots would turn into spiders when the sun went down.
I woke up to her screaming in the middle of the night and found her huddled in the corner of the bed, her little arms wrapped around her trembling body. "Spiders everywhere!" she screamed.
I quickly turned on the lights and the spiders turned back into polka dots. I threw a blanket over her pillow, which seemed to be causing her the worst fear, and turned the room back to night. I settled in beside her and snuggled her close until her sobs gradually stilled.
"Can I pray for you?" I whispered.
I felt her head nod. "Say Dear God, Mama," she whispered back.
This was her way of asking me to avoid the rote 'Now I lay me down to sleep' prayer and instead use words from the heart for this particular situation.
With my arms wrapped around her, I asked the God who never slumbers or sleeps to calm her fears so she can. I asked Him to give my three-year-old faith to believe that He was with her and helps her face the spiders in the night.
Holding her there, I thought about my own spiders in the night. Those fears that creep over me and threaten to strangle. Fears about the what ifs and the worst case scenarios. Fears about stepping out and taking risks and following God in ways I never have before. Fears about the unknown and the response of people and my own overwhelming inability.
But then the Light of the world steps in and floods my night with His glory and all fears vanish. He stills my racing heart with His presence, and I know deep in my spirit that no matter what comes, it will be all right.
Once her breathing became deep and even, I laid her head back on her pillow and tiptoed from her room.
God says it over and over in Scripture, "Do not be afraid." But this world is full of terrifying things, so how can a good God pat us on the head and tell us not to be afraid? He can because He provides the antidote to fear. "Do not be afraid because I am with you."
There is no fear in the presence of God. You see, perfect love casts out all fear.
The presence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God banishes the things that go bump in the night with the light of His presence. So when you are afraid, run to Him. You are safe in His arms.