Her screams woke me from a deep sleep. Alertness came over me as my feet found the cold wood floor and padded quickly to her room.
“I need Jesus! You forgot Jesus!” she bellowed as tears saturated her scrunched up face. I enfolded my toddler’s warm body against mine and kissed her salty face. She clung to me as her heaving breaths slowed to a quiet rhythmic tempo.
As she gave back in to sleep, I disentangled myself from her grasp and tiptoed to the window where her nightlight was plugged into the wall. My fingers fumbled until I found the switch to turn it on. A mural of Jesus in a white robe, surrounded by sheep, glowed golden in the light bulb’s illumination. I glanced once more at the peaceful curves of her face in the soft light and returned to my warm bed.
As a small child, I was afraid of the dark too. The shapes in my bedroom took on unsettling forms in the darkness. I would lay wide eyed and panicked in my bed for hours until exhaustion overtook me.
When I was first married, I went through a period of night terrors where I would bolt upright several times a night in the grips of a panic attack. Before bed each night, I would switch on the light in the closet to serve as my nightlight, and pray that the dark hours would pass quickly.
After three months of suffering, my husband talked to a fellow pastor friend who had experience with spiritual warfare. As instructed by the pastor, we prayed over every room of our house asking that God’s light would shine in every corner, and that the any dark presence would flee.
That night as I skeptically gave in to sleep, anticipating a long night ahead, I awoke to diffused sun light and the sounds of a lawn mower. Relief flooded me as I soaked in warmth and restfulness and said a silent prayer of thanks. I have never had a night terror since.
In Ephesians Paul reminds us that “our battle is not against flesh and blood but against mighty powers in this dark world” (Ephesians 6:12). But despite my faith, more often than not, I forget that this battle exists. It sounds good in the Bible, but how does that stuff really fit into the life of a stay-at-home mom, busy with groceries and bills, scrambled eggs, and pull-up diapers?
When my daughter began fearing the dark, I was reminded of the paralyzing fear and anxiety that had once gripped me. As her screams rang out in the night, I would run to her room and hold her tightly as I soothed her with whispered prayers of protection.
Then one day as I rifled through a box of discarded memories, I came across an old nightlight with a picture of Jesus tending to a flock of sheep. My daughter’s tiny fingers traced the smooth glass drawing as I told her that Jesus was her light in the darkness.
That night, we turned on the nightlight and cuddled together in her princess bed as we gazed at the glow of our Good Shepherd.
Between toddler tantrums, laundry, and utter exhaustion, it’s easy to let each day melt into another. All too easily I go from one activity to another and then pass out in an unmade bed and fall into a dreamless sleep. I don’t look to Jesus’ light until I stumble into dark places like fear and anxiousness and loneliness. It’s then that I look for Jesus’ glowing light for hope among a confusing world with unknown shapes and dark corners.
But my daughter reminds me that too often I “forget Jesus,” and I desperately need Him.
I’m grateful for a God that never leaves me in total darkness — for a God who’s love and light can banish the very trace of darkness– and for a mighty God who is so tender, He brings comfort to a little girl afraid of the dark.
Related: Dispel the darkness while creating a warm and welcoming space in your home with this beautiful candle holder! Its powerful message is a wonderful reminder that the Lord is our everlasting Light!