Fear does some strange things to us. I remember as a kid doing the typical late night thing after watching a scary movie. The movie itself was terrifying – and I did it to myself by choosing to watch it. Then came the inevitable moment when sleep begins to take over and the images of the movie show up. The covers are pulled up. No part of me can be outside the protection of the sheets if I hope to remain alive through the night. Except for the eyes. Not sure why that is the case. In thinking back, that’s actually more terrifying! I am bound in a bed, tightly wrapped, and I can see my doom approaching but can do nothing about it since I am immobile? Anyway, fear drove that night as I didn’t sleep much, thinking of awful things I had seen, certain they were in my room, under my bed, creeping under my covers. Awesome.
In Judges, that book of the Bible sandwiched between the really old stuff and the not so old stuff, there is this moment in the history of Israel where they had chosen to not follow their God and ended up in a place of fear. Listen to what it says…
Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites, Amalekites, and the Qedemites came and attacked them. They encamped against them and destroyed the produce of the land, even as far as Gaza. They left nothing for Israel to eat, as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For the Midianites came with their cattle and their tents like a great swarm of locusts. They and their camels were without number, and they entered the land to lay waste to it. So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian…
Christian Standard Bible Judges 6:2–6.
Do you feel it? An enemy had crept in, the sheets are drawn tightly around hearts that are deeply fearful, options limited, resources reduced, overwhelming despair. They hid in caves. Have you ever been in a cave? Not exactly the dream place to spend your life. I know there are some beautiful ones in the world, but these mentioned are probably not those. These would have been sparse, hard, dark, meant to be just the minimum needed for survival.
I wrote in my journal the other day that I have been in moments like this, and I am sure others have been here. Overwhelmed with fear. Feeling the crunch of choices made, probably choices that I should have made differently. So, on top of hiding comes shame, guilt, you name it! And one can spiral in these moments.
Except. Take a breath here…
“and the Israelites cried out to the Lord.”
Desperate. Deeply moving. Whether out loud or in the heart, they cried out to God. Where else are they to turn? And where else are we to turn? This actually takes guts to do, doesn’t it? Will God hear? Will God respond? Does he care? Is he really there? When fear begins to take over, I think this becomes our only true place to turn – our heart to God.
“When the Israelites cried out to him because of Midian, the Lord sent a prophet to them.”
Let that sink in. It was they who had turned away. It was they who hid. It was they who ran. Read – it was me who had turned away. It was me who had hidden. It was me who had run.
If you are in the moment of cave-dwelling, no matter how you got there, remember that God is anxiously awaiting your voice to call out. He is the powerful, immanent, loving God. It’s time to come into the light.