During the summers as a very young boy, we’d attend various performances at the Rose Test Garden high in the Portland hills. The night might feature the Salvation Army band, a troupe of ballet dancers, bag pipers, or a Shakespearean play. One night we watched a production of Rumpelstiltskin.
Decked out in colorful Elizabethan costumes, I watched as a poor woman was forced to spin straw into gold to gain her freedom. Each night a tiny man appeared in her prison cell, and for the promise of giving up her firstborn child, he spun the straw into gold for her. All was well until the woman guessed the identity of the tiny man named Rumpelstiltskin and he lost his hold upon her. At that point in the story the actor ranted and raved around the stage, stomping his feet until with a flash of smoke and loud bang he disappeared from sight beneath a trapdoor in the stage.
All the drive home I wondered where Rumpelstiltskin had gone. When we got home, I knew the angry dwarf was hiding in my bedroom closet. I knew it!
These many years later I can assure you that Rumpelstiltskin was not in my closet. He wasn’t even in my house. It was a well-performed stage trick. But to that little boy, it seemed so real.
Fear is real and there are many things in this world to be frightened about. The news is full of scary events around us each day, yet the Bible repeatedly tells us not to be afraid.
A portion of the Twenty-Third Psalm reads, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (verse 4).
The valley is real. The shadows and death are real, but there is no reason for the child of God to fear. Why? God, your Shepherd, is with you. He doesn’t take away the things that frighten us, but He does promise to stay with us, protect us, and bring us comfort in the face of the dangers we face each day.