The hour of 1:00 a.m. comes every night, but there's one 1:00 a.m. I'll never forget. While you were likely sound asleep, I was wide awake . . . talking to God like mad!
I was aboard a small twin-engine plane with a seasoned pilot, rapidly descending through a foggy, dense overcast at 200 miles per hour. The pilot was having the time of his life . . . but, frankly, I was scared spitless! At one point he looked over at me, grinned, and said, "Hey, Chuck, isn't this great?"
I didn't answer since I was praying.
As our lonely plane cut through the cloudy, pre-dawn sky, I reviewed every verse I knew and confessed every wrong I'd ever done. The closest comparison I can think of is speeding a couple hundred miles an hour down a rush-hour freeway with a white bedsheet wrapped across the windshield and the radio turned up just beneath the threshold of audible pain!
I couldn't believe how happy and excited my companion-in-flight really was. His passenger, however, had ten fingernails imbedded in the seat cushion. I stared longingly for something—anything—through the blanket of white fog surrounding us. Our flight record may have indicated two passengers on that eerie Monday morning, but I can vouch for at least three. An unyielding creature called Fear and I shared the same seat.
Fear. What a monster! Razor-sharp claws, dripping with the blood of the unknown and unseen. Piercing voice, shouting ugly, destructive words of worry. Most of Fear's statements begin with a quiet, "What if . . . ?" and end with a loud ". . . and you'll be sorry!" One blast of its awful breath transforms saints into cynics.
Fear can reverse our entire mind-set. Its bite shoots a paralyzing venom into our veins, and before long, doubt dulls our vision. As we fall, Fear steps on our face with the weight of a massive tank . . . and laughs at our crippled condition as it prepares for another pounce.
Ever met this beast? Sure you have. It comes in all shapes and every size. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of crowds. Fear of disease and death. Fear of rejection. Fear of unemployment. Fear of what others are saying about you. Fear of leaving the familiar. Fear of disaster or depth or distance. Fear of trusting others. Fear of being yourself. Fear of buying. Fear of selling. Fear of financial ruin. Fear of war. Fear of the unknown.
Around every imaginable corner, Fear lurks in the shadows, planning to poison your inner peace and outward poise. Being a bully, it relies on scare tactics and surprise attacks. It watches for your vulnerable moments, then picks the lock that safeguards your heart. As Fear invades, it reduces your spiritual muscles to a mass of mental mush. The prognosis, once you're infected, is neither bright nor cheery.
David's twenty-seventh psalm scratches the fearful where we itch. With broad, bold strokes of his pen, the monarch of Israel puts iron in our bones. He meets Fear at the door of his home with two questions:
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I dread? (Psalm 27:1)
David slams that door in Fear's face with the declaration:
My heart will not fear; . . .
In spite of this I shall be confident! (27:3)
David then whistles and hums to himself as he walks back into the family room, kitchen, or master bedroom, reminding himself of the secrets of daily trust:
|I have asked from the LORD (27:4)||PRAYER|
|I behold the beauty of the LORD (27:4)||VISION|
|I meditate in His temple (27:4)||GOD'S WORD|
|In the day of trouble He will conceal me / hide me / lift me (27:5)||GOD'S PROTECTION|
|I will offer sacrifices and I will sing (27:6)||MOMENT-BY-MOMENT WORSHIP|
|I would have despaired unless I had believed . . . wait for the LORD (27:13–14)||REST|
|Let your heart take courage (27:14)||DETERMINATION|
Oh, how I needed these secrets that night in the cockpit! Truth be told, I have needed them many nights and days before and since then. Maybe you have too. Maybe you need them right now.
I'll share one more secret. Most of our fears, no matter their specific aim, boil down to one thing: fear of the future. Our gut churns with the thought: Who knows what may happen?
Am I describing you? Tell you what—let's share the same seat and relax for a change. Of course, you might want to fasten your seat belt. (It could get a little rough before we land.) But you can breathe easy. There's no need to fear the future.
God is already there . . . and He has never missed the runway through centuries of intimidating fog.