Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. —Psalm 23:4
A thunderous blast jolted me awake immediately. Struggling to focus in the dark room where I was sound asleep, I wondered whether the sound was in my dream or real. I closed my eyes seeking the restful peace that separated my restless reality…of a broken relationship. Then, I heard voices outside my room! I listened intently, hearing the distinct word, “FIRE!”
My reaction was swift-a burst of perpetual motion starting with my feet hitting the floor, clothes haphazardly thrown on my body, and my hand fumbling for the door knob, all in record time…whatever that was! As I stumbled out my bedroom door, there were several people wandering around in confusion. “What happened?” I asked anyone willing to answer.
A friend, Bob Wheeler, walked over. “Somebody said a bomb went off downstairs!”
“WHAT? Hey, I didn’t even know you were here!”
“Yeah, been here a few days now. Are you all right? You don’t look so good.”
“Not really. Marci and I broke up.”
“No, I mean you are white as a sheet!”
“Oh, I got up too fast and got a blood rush to the head!” I answered while leaning against the wall. “Come on. Let’s go see what happened!”
The two of us headed down the stairs and the sight that met us halfway down was astounding! “My God!” A pile of rubble lay at the bottom of the stairway and a huge, gaping hole gave a perfect view into the gathering crowd of Colombians trying to walk around the glass-shattered streets.
While roaming the crowd, observing the carnage, my eyes caught sight of a young American girl that I had never seen before. She looked to be around fourteen-years-old and appeared to be in shock. I watched her wide, terror-filled, blue eyes piercing through her strands of dark hair streaming down her delicate face for a moment. Her facial expression displayed what I felt deep inside of me…a fear I could not explain.
Over time, my fear only grew, manifesting itself on my next trip to Bogota a month later. Nearly thirty days after the terror-filled night, I was with friends, going to a movie, shopping, and eating at restaurants, the part of life that was void on our mission base in the Llanos.
While walking from the cinema, where we had just finished watching a movie, to a local food café, called Crème Helado, I trailed the pack, purposely, leaving a twenty-meter distance between us. I struggled—not being able to wrap my mind around the mental battle waging between a force of fear and a feeble human attempt to overcome it. The former was growing stronger by the second!
Janet, a girl two years younger than me, with long, wavy blond hair and blue eyes hidden behind wire-rimmed glasses, yelled, “Hey, Scott, are you coming?” as the rest of the group stopped and turned around to face me.
“Yeah, keep going. I’ll catch up.” The fear swelled inside of me for no apparent reason. I started to sweat, feeling drops of liquid run down my cheeks. The intensity of the emotion caused me to look quickly to my right and left as if in a state of paranoia. I saw nothing—I felt something…but what? It was like an evil invisible force that I could not explain.
Suddenly, this force became a heavy weight pressing down on me, trying to crush my soul! Like in a nightmare, I yelled for help…but no words left my mouth. What happened next was something I will never forget. Like a flashing neon sign on Madison Avenue, the words from Psalm 23:4 lit up. I responded by verbally blurting the words aloud: “When I walk through this valley of death, I will not be afraid, because the Lord my God is with me, his rod and staff comforts me.”
Immediately—no, not one second—but instantaneously, the plunging grip weighing me down disappeared! Not only had the feeling vanished, it—it was replaced entirely by an overwhelming sense of comfort, strength, and peace…a feeling of euphoria! The dark streets of Bogotá seemed to have literally become like day! Without question, a supernatural event had just taken place that night…and my fears were gone!
Lesson Learned: When facing hardships, such as fear, I found comfort, strength, and peace in God’s word. His words are alive and powerful, sharper than a double-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12).