A few days ago, we ran a bath in the big tub in my bathroom. It was built specifically for my comfort and safety, and ease of use. It is embarrassing, but I still found myself pushing back nerves about the water. I loved pools growing up, but I will admit that there was and something about water that I would let myself get frozen up and anxious over. Of course, what made the potential anxiety of a pool vanish quickly was the immediate reminder of the joy shared with my siblings, and the always-close proximity of my dad. That, and recognizing the illusion fear throws over anything and everything — and Who empowers us to defeat it.
That more recent evening, it took me some time to get over it, with the constant and gentle reminders of my father of just how safe the situation is and the water is, as always, as safe as it ever is. Phoning fear only ever makes you feel like a fool — it’s better to point out how silly it all is, to defeat it with honesty and humor. It has taken me, admittedly, a while to catch on to this fact. It’s easy to feel ashamed and tempting to give in to navel-gazing, huffing nonsense when it comes to the repercussions of letting fears’ little gnat-voice have a seat at the big table in your heart.
Tonight, I needed to spend some time in worship and dedicated prayer. My room was filled with some new songs from Bethel’s album, this one brimming with celebrations of Jesus’ holiness, faithfulness, trustworthiness and the eternal reliability of His blood and work. One song in particular has moved me to weeping every time I let it play: I am Your Beloved. The entire album is special and deeply moving, though that song is worth the whole thing.
Tonight, I lay back, confessing and letting the Holy Spirit speak, confronting some shadows I had yet to truly driven off into the blackness where they belong. It is a little difficult to type that out, but I believe there is something valuable the Lord does when we are open (without turning on a fire hose). One image that surfaced is something from that night, as I was in the tub — honestly still fluttering from reaching out to the wrong voice. I knew better, but the proximity and unshakable, patient gentleness from my Dad soon reminded me to drive them away.
The water was warm, and just bubbled over my ears, leaving a quiet, thrumming echo that became quite peaceful. I am pretty sensitive, so for a minute it wasn’t on the list of my favorite things! But as I focused, I believe the Lord used this instance and called it to my memory tonight. In that moment, there was a reduction in volume, a quiet, comforting thump of my heart and the movements of the water. I closed my eyes, and whenever I did open them for a moment, my dad was above me, smiling quietly and helping me get clean, comfortably and safely.
Sometimes, fear is something I choose to listen to. It isn’t a defining trait, absolutely not, but a habit that the Lord has and will continue to break with me. I feel ashamed and frustrated if it happens, and I haven’t always made the right choice in simply letting go and knowing God forgives me. But that feeling in the tub, of the water gently drowning out sounds and the only image of being tended to in a way that is all I have ever known. Just floating, in peace and warmth and gratitude.
I’m blessed to have a dad who has humbly, but intentionally reflected the nature of our Heavenly Father, as a father, to the very best of his earthly ability (which is a lot of ability).
But not everyone is. Not everyone has that image to rely on.
That’s okay, because the Lord is bigger than any kind of distraction, trauma, tension, or perceived lack. I was tearfully, repeatedly reminded of my heavenly Father’s love and of the total freedom, peace, and love this evening in a freeing, special way. That sensation of floating in still water, with only His presence, every other voice silent in the stillness, never to return. Why reach out for anything else when the alternative is far more holy and far more reliable?
If you also find yourself needing to throw fear’s chair out, I hope that this image helps you. Clear, still waters — just you and Your Father, every need met with a loving, happy, never weary, look on His face. The little gnat has no power over Him — and no power over you. Let that closeness fuel joy, gratitude, and peace in your mind and heart. I will do the same.