It creeps into your heart without you really even noticing at first. Coming in as subtle as the shadows of the evening. The light fading before your eyes but so gradually that you don’t realise it is happening until you can’t see very well. You find yourself plunged into darkness. This is even truer when you find yourself distracted and focusing on something else. Time passes unnoticed, sucked into the vacuum of thought. The abyss of wanderings. This cavernous space inside our minds is how those shadows of fear creep in. A single thought not captured but followed, attaching itself to the edges of something passing through our mind, or worse still, those thoughts lingering in the depth of our minds. Those ones that we don’t really notice until things get quiet and we have no choice but to pay attention to them. Those thoughts, they have foundation and root in our minds.
When the shadows of fear find themselves mingled with these thoughts, it allows the shadow to grow shape and form, and depth. Shape and form aren’t so bad, to begin with, as it is our second chance to grab a hold and put it in chains. Depth is a whole other story. Depth sees it going down deep into those places that we may not fully understand ourselves. Those places that link aspects of who we are with how we feel and respond to certain things. Our history. Once the shadow has found depth, there is only a short space of time before it reaches our hearts.
The shadow that has made its way to our heart will always attach itself to our greatest vulnerability. That which holds our greatest wounds. It is that place of rejection or shame or worthlessness that holds us back. The fear has started to taint all that the Lord has spoken over us. To compromise things we have fought hard to rid ourselves of, yet no matter the battle, they seem to always creep back in. He then pushes us to the place of overwhelm, with life circumstances coming at us from different sides. Disagreements, discontentment, disillusionment, disquiet, discomfort, disease.
Frustration rises and many things trigger it, even when it doesn’t relate to why you were feeling frustrated in the first place. You are simply frustrated, and your capacity to tolerate further frustration has now diminished. Frustrated at the lack of control of the circumstances around you, frustration and not knowing what to do to meet expectations of yourself and other people. Frustration at the fear that lingers in the depths of your heart. Frustration at not being heard, and when there is an opportunity to be heard, not having the words to even express what is going on inside because it is too huge. These feelings are simply just masks for the greater emotion of anger, which is another way of expressing that deep emotion of fear.
Why do I keep stumbling over the same pebble on the road while I managed to jump over the boulder before it? This is the greatest frustration. Knowing what needs to be done but instead of getting up and keeping going, we sit here, where we fell and get frustrated and angry at the pebble, at our lack of ability, at all that stands before us and the failure that is right now. If such a small thing can continue to bring us down, then how are we going to be able to stand tall and lead anyone? To bring freedom, to be light and salt.
The depth of all fear of not being enough, and being too much, all at the same time. When we come to this place of realisation, of seeing this shadow hiding deep in our hearts. We know it needs to be removed, in order for us to stand again, yet how? How do we dig into our own hearts to perform redemptive surgery? We know we can’t. Yet, we still need to step into that place of fear and face it instead of turning from it. We need to pull our hearts out and hand them over, once again, to the heavenly Father. We cry in pain as he digs into our stony heart, piece after piece. The thing is, he is ignoring the shadows buried within and digging for roots that have entwined in the core of my heart, strangling it from the inside. We never knew they were there, these roots. Inside, planted and causing the heart to beat out of time with the Father’s heart. It isn’t until he pulls these roots out with high pitched screams of pain falling from our mouth that we see the shadows falling away also.
They had attached themselves to these roots, on the strong tendrils that reached out in different directions. The strange thing was that when he had pulled out the root, having performed major heart surgery, there was no healing time required. Normal surgery sees you needing time to recuperate and build up strength again. With our heavenly surgeon, the surgery is the healing. Just before he closes up the heart he still holds in his hand, other roots are seen in that open wound, smaller ones, but they are still there.
In confusion and we ask him why he left them there as he covers the heart in his mighty hands, then moments later, removes them. He shows that my heart is whole, it is beating in time with his. He says I am not ready to deal with the others yet, the time is not right, but it will be soon. If I bring my heart back to him regularly, the removal of the other roots won’t be quite so painful. They may still be deep but some he can remove gradually without me even noticing. While there are others that may still require surgery. As I look at him, not understanding why it must wait, he reminds me that his timing is right. He knows me better than I know myself.
I pause reflecting on the truth of his word but question why fear always seems to find a way in. Then he showed me that when I remained close to him, his light covered me like the sun shining on a cold day. Warm and inviting. When I stayed within his covering of light, the shadows were unable to get a hold of me. It was in those seasons when I strayed a little too far ahead, or my focus was taken by something along the way. Those were the times the shadows of fear were able to touch and grow, in my life.