Perhaps it is no coincidence that undoubtedly every child in the world is afraid of the creature in the closet. The idea of a lurking monster hiding in the darkness and ready to devour transcends cultures and haunts the dreams of every 5-year-old. How is it that the innocent imagination of a child can turn misplaced shadows into such nightmarish thoughts? How can a child who has seen no evil create a world of such terror? A terror in which their only hope is their turret of night lights and loyal teddy bears, called on to stand guard against the monstrous creatures in the closet? As adults, we do our best to comfort our children and reassure them that shadows are simply cast by falling light and not forged by evil. Our adult minds can accuse the unexplained and ignore the unexplainable, but for those of us brave enough to admit it, we ourselves are haunted by our children’s nightmares. Not because we actually believe that there is a monster in the closet, but because we cannot comprehend how our sweet little kids can know evil long before the two are formally introduced by life. Of course, as we struggle ourselves to write away the idea of evil watching and waiting in the darkness, we all must come to terms with the fact that the creature in the closet just might be real.
We all have our own creature hiding in the closet. It is the same one we stared down as a child and it has followed us into adulthood. Rather, the creature is real; imagined, physical, or spiritual does not matter. The creature is alive. It is powered by, maybe even created by, all our secrets, sins, and selfish desires. As children, we feared the creature, seeing in it our downfall. As adults, the creature has become our friend. The creature’s shadow casts a perfect hiding place for all the things that we don’t want the world to see. As children, we are terrified of growing up to be cold, sinful people. We have magnificent dreams, but the creature threatens those dreams; it is the darkness in all of us that wants to come out. So, we held our guardian teddy bears close and fortified ourselves under our blankets hoping that our dreams would not be overrun.
As adults, we have come to terms with the creature. Our dreams have long past us by or turned out to be nightmares of their own. Our belief in a guardian angel, teddy bear or otherwise, has been replaced by cynicism and unbelief. The mystical world of good and evil has all but faded from our minds. So we sit next to the creature in the closet, now almost one and the same. We both hide our true selves in dark places; we both delight in exploring the shadowy world of indifference. As adults, we do not fear the presence of the creature in the closet. We have realized that we are the creature in the closet. We are chained to the dark presence of our sins and failures. In fact, we are locked in the closet, shutout from the light that once filled our childhood. As adults, we fully understand that the shadows we once feared, we have now become. Our dreams gone, all that is left is a shadow of who we were supposed to be.
This world of darkness does not have to be. As a child, we feared the darkness because we knew it was a threat and it was recognizable to us as a foreign presence. As children, we wanted to live in the light. As adults, we have forgotten that there is even a difference. Our lives are lit by artificial light, just enough to let us see our feet, just enough to let us know that we are surrounded by darkness. But there is a way to once again regain our childhood knowledge that joy and peace come from the light. Centuries ago, God came down to earth to battle the creature in our closet. He is even more powerful than our guardian teddy bears. Not only was He able to ward off the creature’s advances but, more importantly, God set out on a counter-attack and overcame the darkness, conquering it for good. As children, we understood that light destroyed the darkness. We defended our position with night lights and cracked doors, knowing that as long as we stood on the side of the light, nothing could hurt us. The Bible corroborates what we already knew as children. 1 John 1:5-7 tells us that God is light and that in Him, there can be no darkness. The passage goes on to tell us that if we walk with God, then we also walk in the light and will have our sins purified by Christ Jesus. Think for a moment about the amazing power behind the fact that God’s truth has never been hidden from us. As children, we instinctively knew that the creature in the closest was after our souls. It wanted to devour our will to live a worthy and selfless life. We understood that light was the only thing that could save us. Now, we are presented with the same message. God is light and He can take away the darkness. Jesus came down to the dark world that we caused; He defeated the creature in the closet and chained it to the darkness. Yet, without Christ, we are the creature, chained and bound to darkness. But we can be set free; we can step into the light, and once again feel its calming protection, as we did as a child.
Until the end of time, the creature will always be in the closet. Our sinful nature has put it there. But today we have a choice to leave the creature behind. Christ has the keys to the chains that hold you captive in fear, disappointment, shame, and even unbelief. All you have to do is ask to be set free, all you have to do is step out of the dark shadows. Belief is not an easy thing. It takes work to leave your past behind. But, just as you knew before, you can know again. Life is better in the light, we are not meant for the darkness. The creature cannot harm us while we are in the light.
“Truly I (Jesus) tell you, anyone, who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” – Mathew 10:15