The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6 NIV
Reading this verse, what phrase jumps at you? For me it’s, “What can man do to me?” In the past my response to this question was, “PLENTY!” Never feeling like I had control, I felt I existed for everyone else’s tortured enjoyment.
When I was seventeen my dad, my hero, was diagnosed with a heart murmur and a bubble in his aorta requiring a heart valve replacement. Fearing he could die felt like the Hiroshima bomb exploding inside my mind, heart and soul. I was terrified that the only person I felt love from could be ripped away from me.
My parents took frequent trips to the cabin up north. One weekend they left to escape the stress of dad’s health issues. Nearing ten o’clock in the evening, I heard noises outside my room. Frozen in my bed, I couldn’t move as I heard the sound of a hand scratching on my window screen. Terrified, I reached out to God:
What was that? Is someone breaking in? What should I do? God help me.
The phone rang and I ran to answer it to prevent it from waking my Aunt who stayed with us during my parents’ absence. “I’m watching you,” said a voice and then I heard a dial tone. Screaming, I dropped the phone and ran across the hall to awaken my Aunt who promptly called the police. On arrival, they confirmed that someone had been in the bushes outside my bedroom but were unable to find any fingerprints. They advised us to call if anything else happened.
A house rule prevented our friends from calling late so when the phone rang at 10:00, I wanted to shoo whoever it was off the phone. Hearing someone breathing, I asked, “Who is this?” They hung up. As the phone calls continued I noticed when someone else answered, the person would hang up immediately. They would linger when I answered. It seemed they were after me and I was afraid. Mom called the police and a phone tap was put on the line. As instructed, we logged day, time, and length of the calls to match against the phone tap logs to discover who was harassing us. Calls continued sporadically each week and with the logging, we hoped it would end soon.
Originally planning to work at camp a few weeks, I didn’t want to leave because of dad’s health and the phone calls. With my parents encouragement I left for camp. On arriving home I noted from the log that no phone calls came while I was out of town. For the first time in months I felt safe. It was short-lived when the phone rang at 10:00 p.m. that very night. “Who the hell are you and what do you want with me?” I yelled into the phone. I slammed the phone down, wrote it in the log and ran to my bedroom. I grabbed stuffed animals and placed them around me in the bed as if they would protect me. Tucking the covers around me like dad did for me as a little girl; I put the pillow over my head and cried out to God:
God help me! I am terrified to walk out of the house and just as scared to be in it. I’m afraid someone’s going to grab me. When will this torture end? First I get molested and can’t trust my family and now I can’t trust the outside world. You’re all I’ve got Lord, please protect me.
Logging the phone calls continued and as the day of dad’s surgery approached, mom gave the logs to the police to analyze as I anxiously awaited the answer.
As mom and dad drove away to dad’s pre-surgery testing, the phone rang. “I’m still watching you,” said the voice. I dropped the phone and fell to the floor trembling. I cowered under the kitchen counter for an hour. My logic was if he looks inside the house from a window, he won’t be able to see me here. If he comes into the house, I’ll run out the back door.
Over the next two days, Mom and I rushed to answer the phone anxious for news about dad. It never was, it was the creep continuing his reign of terror over me – over us. I begged God:
Lord, tomorrow is dad’s surgery. Please let the surgeons repair him, I need him. And if it’s not too much trouble, please stop the person who’s calling me.
We drove to the hospital to visit dad before surgery. Exhausted; neither of us slept that night. During the 10 ½ hours of dad’s surgery, mom received a phone call from the police. The person who’d been terrorizing us was a previous boyfriend of mine. With the stress on our family, Mom chose not to press charges. Four hours later the doctor informed us that dad came through the surgery okay! I began to praise God:
Thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s good to have my dad. Please let him live forever. I know that’s not possible, but please don’t take him too early. And thank you for stopping the phone calls. Thanks for being there for me. I couldn’t have made it through without you. I guess I didn’t have anything to fear after all.
What can man do to you? Sure man can inflict harm physically, emotionally or mentally but you have a choice as to how you respond. God’s sovereign plan is stronger and better than anything man can do to you. He is with you always and gives you reason not to fear despite the circumstances you experience. May the comfort and peace of God be with you as you conquer your fears.