Rachel, our youngest, has an amazing imagination. Not just a good imagination, we’re talking a Dr. Seuss, J.R.R. Tolken, Steven King kind of imagination. It is fun, exciting, interesting, and occasionally a little frightening to listen to her talk about the things that go on in her little head. We hear frequent stories about fairies, imaginary friends, imaginary horses, unicorns, and a variety of other made-up creatures almost daily. They all have their own names, distinct personalities, places of residence, and families as well. One year, we had to be very careful where we sat because Rachel’s imaginary “Tiny Baby” might be sleeping anywhere in the house…she carried her around in her little cupped hands, everywhere we went.
In her third and fourth years, Rachel struggled with Monsters. They were everywhere. There was a huge cast of monsters that lived in or near our house, most were benign and functional in nature (they lived in nearly every household appliance, for example). A few were great friends of hers and joined us at the table for dinner on a nightly basis. Some, however, were malevolent and frightening and lurked in the dark places where Rachel was afraid to go.
Hetta Monster was a little red, furry friend of Rachel’s. Hetta was a little like Elmo from Sesame street, but more capricious and a little wily. She lived in a cave, and had to sneak out to play with Rachel because her mother and father generally ate little kids and didn’t approve of Hetta’s fraternizing with children. On more than one occasion, Hetta was the one who suggested that Rachel try something naughty. It was Hetta who wondered if it might be fun to use marker on the living room wall, Hetta who wanted to go play outside and didn’t see a need to ask mommy, first. She was good to play with on rainy afternoons, though, when Rachel’s older siblings were busy with school work.
Then there were the House Monsters. The House Monsters lived in various places throughout our house and had functional jobs. They generally didn’t stray from their designated areas, but some of them were truly evil and terrifying. There was the monster that lived in our basement, whose job it was to suck the water out of all the pipes. When you pulled the plug in the tub, you could hear him slurping away (which made it necessary to jump very quickly out of the tub and dry off a safe distance from those slurping pipes!). The furnace monster blew warm air into the house when it got chilly outside. The vacuum monster, with his loud and frightening roar, once escaped from the confines of the vacuum bag and snuck into the kitchen…requiring Rachel’s stern admonishment one morning out of the blue….”Vacuum Monster, you get right back into the vacuum where you belong! You get away from my mommy!” I spent a lot of time scratching my head in bewilderment at the peak of all this monster activity, and I must admit to considering making a quick phone call to a child Psychologist on several occasions.
Of all the Monsters, however, the most disruptive was definitely the Toilet Monster. Toilet Monster lived in the toilet of course, and caused a lot of grief in Rachel’s life for about half a year. It took all her courage to flush, and most of the time she’d run screaming from the bathroom with her hands over her ears….not a pretty situation. Fear of the Toilet Monster held Rachel’s little heart captive, it was a struggle on a daily basis and no amount of reasoning would assuage her terror.
One morning we were reading some Bible stories, and the kids and I got in a discussion about God…how God made the world, how God can do anything. We talked about prayer, and how when you were scared you could pray and God would help you. We had discussed this with Rachel before, in an effort to help her get over her fears. Although she seemed to almost understand, it had remained just beyond her grasp. That morning, however, barely-three year old Rachel was sitting on my lap, soaking it all in. She looked up at me, and I could see something inside her click….”Mommy, God can do anything?” She asked. “Yes, God can do anything at all!” I watched her upturned face for a moment, could almost see the pieces falling into place. “Anything at all?” Yes, Isaiah and Sarah chimed in. God can do anything at all.
A smile lit up Rachel’s little face, from ear to ear. She leaped off my lap with a little squeal, and ran over to the open dining room window. Clamboring up on a chair, she stood on tiptoe, craning her neck around so that she could see into the sky. At the top of her tiny lungs, she shouted her first spontaneous, solo prayer…
“God! Would you please come get the monsters out of the toilet?????”
The kids and I were transfixed, as Rachel…full of confidence and excitement, jumped from the chair. She tore into the bathroom, and I could hear the toilet flush! A moment later, she strode back into the kitchen…cool as a cucumber and wearing the most peaceful and satisfied look I’d ever seen. “It worked!” She raved, as she climbed back on my lap, her relieved smile was contagious. “God took away the monster!”
In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6, NIV
God’s victory over the Toilet Monster always makes me smile. I think of the simplicity, the purity, the completeness of Rachel’s faith that morning…the faith of a child! And I pray for a measure of that same faith myself. The complete faith that God will take care of it, that He is greater than all our monsters and can, with a word, with a prayer…slay them all. I think of the dark and scary places in my own mind, where grown-up monsters lurk…the fear monster, the jealousy monster, the doubt monster, the monster of guilt. I want the same purity, the same steadfast faith, to run to the window and cry out to my God for help. He will prevail! He has the power to still those monsters, all I need to do is ask.
Lord, help me have the faith of a little child. Help my heart turn to you with pure and honest faith, secure in the knowledge that in your infinite love and wisdom you have the power to slay whatever monsters I fear in the this world. You are good! Thank you for your faithful love, for your matchless strength. Amen!