We recently went camping for Joelle's birthday, and I was reminded of something I learned a few years ago when the twins were little. I learned that when it's dark and scary and things are new and different, to remember "Jesus here" and relax into the reality of the God who loves me and is near me.
So, if you're going through a dark, scary time, here's some encouragement:
Darkness closed in around our camper just as the crickets began to sing. It was going to be a long night. I knew it because there was no familiar crib, no Curious George toy, no door I could close to shut my two-year-old daughter off from the strange and scary noises of the night.
I zipped up Jayna’s jammies and kissed her forehead. Then, I set her on the bed in the pop-up camper and pointed to a spot beside the canvas wall. “Night night time, Jayna. Lay down.”
Her brow wrinkled. Her lip trembled. “Nigh Nigh?”
“It’s okay. Lay down.” I pointed again. “Close eyes.”
She looked down at the spot. Her eyes stayed opened. Too wide.
I cringed. “No cry. Go night night.” I patted the bed.
She sniffed and scowled some more. Then, she rubbed her nose and pranced in a circle around the bed, her head barely skimming the canvas above.
“No, no, no!” I snatched her up and plunked her down on the thin mattress. “Night night.”
I bit my lip. I knew this wasn’t going to work. Jayna was used to her own room, her own crib, her own little Winnie the Pooh bumper to keep her head from hitting the crib’s slats. This wide camper bed, with plain sheets, wobbly sides, and a big pillow was nothing like where she slept every night. It was strange, different. Weird. I sighed. “Okay, just wait a minute.”
I put on my pajamas and quickly brushed my teeth. Then, I crawled into the bed beside her and pulled up the covers.
I patted the bed beside me. “Night night. Lay down by Mommy.”
She plopped down and rolled on her side, her big eyes fastened on my face.
I blinked as a swath of moonlight trickled in to illuminate Jayna’s face.
She smiled at me.
I smiled back.
She inched closer. Then, she sat up and patted my shoulder. “Mama hee-a.” The words came out as an awed whisper.
“Yes, Mommy’s here.”
She laid back down and snuggled up next to me. Then she began to laugh. “Mama here. Mama here. Mama here,” she said between giggles. She turned to face me. A huge grin lit her face. She touched my cheek. “Mama. Here.”
I laughed with her as I held out my arms and gathered her close.
She closed her eyes, the smile still evident on her little face. She was happy, thrilled, comfortable, secure. Despite the darkness, despite the strangeness, despite the weird sound of a hundred crickets chirping outside in the night. None of that matter, because Mommy was here. The joy of Mommy’s presence drove all the fear away.
As I laid there in the moonlight, with Jayna snoring softly next to me, I marveled that for her “Mama here” was enough. And if that was so, shouldn’t “Jesus here” be enough for me as well?
When I enter the dark places in my life, times laced with uncertainty, scattered with strange and unfamiliar sounds, why should I fear? Jesus is with me. He said in Matthew 28:20 (NIV), “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Always. When I’m traveling alone, when I’m in a group of strangers, when I’m trying something new, when I’m in circumstances that are unfamiliar and difficult. He is with me.
When worries chirp outside my camper walls, when I can’t see beyond the end of my bed, when it looks like life is taking a turn to places that make my brows wrinkle and my lips tremble, then God says to me, as it says in Isaiah 41:10 (NIV), “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
And so maybe, for me too, “Jesus here” will be enough. Maybe I don’t need to fear because God is with me, wherever I go, wherever I lay down to rest. Maybe I, too, can just snuggle in and have a little giggle.