Torrents of wind scraped the branches of an overgrown honeysuckle bush against the window screen. Bright flashes of lightning streaked across the midnight sky followed by peals of rolling thunder. Muted beams of light flickered through the rain-streaked glass, while just outside the window a set of bamboo chimes danced furiously in the wind. Shifting shadows on the wall, though caused by the lightning and dancing chimes, seemed to be the only movement in the room.
Across from the window a little girl shivered in her bed. Her fear of darkness intensified with each lightning flash. She curled her body into a tight-fisted ball underneath the covers, hoping the heavy handmade quilts would protect her from strangers in the night. Lightning flashed again and a shadow in the corner of the room seemed to move closer to her bed. She squinted into the darkness unwilling to let her guard down. Afraid to move or breathe, she waited for daylight.
Seconds later, a shuffling sound from the opposite corner of the room pushed her past the edge of fear. She sat bolt upright and cried out for help. It wasn’t long before the door to her bedroom swung open. Light from the hallway spilled into her room, driving the scary shadows away. Then with one flip of the light-switch all shadows vanished completely. Able to move and breathe again the little girl reached for her mother.
“Did you cry for help?” her mother asked.
“Yes” the little girl replied as she cautiously looked around the room for signs of the intruder. “I heard something moving around in my room.”
“Don’t be afraid,” her mother said. “It was probably that overgrown honeysuckle scraping against your window screen again.”
“No!” the little girl insisted and then hurriedly pointing across the room she added, “I heard something over there.”
Her mother looked at the handmade vanity standing in the opposite corner of the room. It was a beautiful heirloom, passed down in her family from generation to generation, beginning with her Great-Grandmother. A shadow of movement beneath the lace fabric suddenly caught her attention. She looked closer, peering through the delicate floral design of the fabric, and began to grin.
“Well, lookie here” she exclaimed, “I think I found your intruder.”
The little girl’s heart skipped a beat. “You did?”
“Yes” her mother said as she knelt next to the vanity. She lifted the lace and reached for something beyond the little girl’s line of sight. When she stood up, the stricken look of fear on her daughter’s face relaxed.
“Shadow!” the little girl giggled, “What are you doing in here?”
The steel gray cat jumped onto her bed. “Oh mama, you were right” she said, “I didn’t need to be afraid.”
“It’s time for both of you to go to sleep now,” her mother said as she tucked the quilts around her daughter. “If you need help again, all you have to do is call.” Then she added, “And remember, there is someone else who hears your cries for help. He is the Lord, the light of the world. He is your refuge and strength and an ever-present help in trouble*.”
“Yes mama”, the little girl nodded with agreement, “that reminds me of what Grandma used to say. Something like, ‘where there are shadows, there is always light’”
Her mother paused at the door, “Very wise words to remember”, she whispered as she turned of the light.
The comforting sound of Shadow’s purring helped the little girl drift off to sleep. Nothing had changed. The shifting shadows were back and the storm continued to rage, but she was not afraid. All was well, because she knew where her help came from.
“My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:2 (NIV)
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