We were rapidly descending through a night of thick fog at 200 miles per hour, but the seasoned pilot of the twin-engine Aero Commander was loving every dip, roll, and lurch. At one point he looked over at me, smiled, and exclaimed, "Hey, Chuck, isn't this great?" I didn't answer. As the lonely plane knifed through the overcast pre-dawn sky, I was reviewing every Bible verse I'd ever known and re-confessing every wrong I'd ever done. It was like hurtling 200 miles an hour down the Santa Ana Freeway with a white bedsheet wrapped across the windshield and your radio turned up just beneath the threshold of audible pain.
I couldn't believe my companion-in-flight. He was whistling and humming like it was all a bike ride through the park. His passenger, however, had ten fingernails imbedded in the cushion. I stared longingly for something—anything—through the blanket of white 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.
Drifting in through cracks in the floorboards or filtering down like a chilling mist, the fog called Fear whispers omens of the unknown and the unseen. Surrounding individuals with its blinding, billowy robe, the creature hisses, "What if . . . what if?" One blast of its awful breath transforms saints into atheists, reversing a person's entire mind-set. Its bite releases a paralyzing venom in its victim, and it isn't long before doubt begins to dull the vision. To one who falls prey to this attack, the creature displays no mercy. As we fall, it steps on our face with the weight of a Sherman tank . . . and laughs at our crippled condition as it prepares for another assault.
Fear. Ever met this beast? Sure you have. It creeps into your cockpit by a dozen different doors. Fear of failure. Fear of heights. Fear of crowds. Fear of disease. Fear of rejection. Fear of unemployment. Fear of what others are saying about you. Fear of moving away. Fear of height or depth or distance or death. Fear of being yourself. Fear of buying. Fear of selling. Fear of financial reversal. Fear of war. Fear of the dark. Fear of being alone.
Lurking in the shadows around every imaginable corner, it threatens to poison your inner peace and outward poise. Bully that it is, the creature relies on scare tactics and surprise attacks. It watches for your vulnerable moment, then picks the lock that safeguards your security. Once inside, it strikes quickly to transform spiritual muscle into mental mush. The prognosis for recovery is neither bright nor cheery.
David's twenty-seventh psalm, however, is known to contain an unusually effective antitoxin. With broad, bold strokes, the monarch of Israel pens a prescription guaranteed to infuse iron into our bones. He meets Fear face-to-face at the door of his dwelling with two questions:
Whom shall I dread?
Whom shall I fear?
He slams the door in Fear's face with the declaration:
My heart will not fear . . . In spite of this I shall be confident. (Psalm 27:3)
He then whistles and hums to himself as he walks back into the family room, kitchen, office, or bedroom, reminding himself of the daily dosage required to counteract Fear's repeated attacks:
PRAYER: I have asked from the Lord (v. 4).
VISION: I behold the beauty of the Lord (v. 4).
GOD'S WORD: I meditate in His temple (v. 4).
GOD'S PROTECTION: In the day of trouble He will conceal me/hide me/lift me (v. 5).
MOMENT-BY-MOMENT WORSHIP: I will sing (v. 6).
REST: I had believed . . . wait for the Lord (vv. 13–14).
DETERMINATION: Let your heart take courage (v. 14).
Oh, how I needed this prescription in that dark cockpit as we dropped thousands of feet through the fog. Could it be that a cold overcast obscures your horizons right now? Tell you what—let's share the same seat and relax for a change. God's never missed the runway through all the centuries of fearful fog. But you might fasten your seat belt, friend. It could get a little rough before we land.