Stalked by Fear, Part III
His broad smile was the first thing I noticed as I stepped into the dimly lit hospital room. The muted beep of his heart monitor refused to hurry, causing time to slow down as I approached the patient’s bed. My hands were trembling as I glanced over at his chart. He didn’t have much time. But here he was, beaming at me with a radiant joy that even made this dark corner of the hospital overflow with bright sunshine.
I cleared my throat, finding it difficult to look away from the rich kindness in his soft brown eyes. “I guess I should introduce myself…”
His deep smile wrinkles crinkled again. “I know who you are, son.”
My heart dropped to the floor. He thinks I’m someone else. With a sigh, I sagged into a nearby armchair. Then I did it. I broke the cardinal rule of hospital visits.
“Are you afraid to… you know… to die?” my voice was sheepish.
He clasped my hand in both of his, and I was surprised by the strength of his grip. His hands were rough from a lifetime of working hard, but it was the warmest handshake I’d ever experienced. I willed the moment to last forever.
“I used to be,” he said with a knowing smile, and I noticed how the way his chestnut colored hair was sweeping to a silver-gray, lending wisdom to his quiet voice. “When I was a young man, I was in a sledding accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I heard the paramedics say they thought they were losing me, and for a moment I was deeply afraid. But then I prayed, and I felt the strong arms of Jesus wrap around me, keeping me from shivering. He told me I would be okay, and I knew it was the truth. I didn’t visit Heaven that day, but I did feel an undeniable peace about passing on after that time.”
According to the heart monitor, this kind stranger’s life was failing. But his voice was so sure, filled to the brim with confidence. My heart, on the other hand, was flailing wildly. Something about his story was so very familiar…
“I was in a sledding accident once,” I whispered.
He breathed a smile, gazing at me with a father’s eyes again. “I know.”
“So… you never feared death again?”
The older man shook his head, ever so slightly. “Oh, there were times when those old doubts and fears came back to nag at my heart. But I realized that I didn’t have to let them. The Lord offers all the peace we could ever want, young one… you just have to let Him in.”
A tear slid down my cheek as I noticed his breaths growing more shallow. I had hardly met this man, and yet I had a feeling that I was going to miss him deeply.
“I… feel like I know you,” I told him.
And once again, his mischievous grin brightened the room. “You should.”
Then, all of a sudden, I was struck by a curious thought. “Are you… me?” I blurted.
His eyes were starting to droop, eager for eternal rest. “I’m who you could be,” he whispered. “If you allow the Lord’s peace to be your companion.”
I sat in the room for a long time, even after the monitor’s slow beep faded into a steady whine. At last I stumbled out into the hallway, and my steps felt…lighter. Outside I saw my old tormentor, the one I knew as Fear, but the strangest thing happened. Instead of mocking me, his eyes grew wide, and he literally ran to get away from me.
I glanced over my shoulder, and saw a familiar face. I didn’t even have to ask – I already knew his name was Peace.
Without a word, I threw my arm over his shoulder and we left the hospital together. No words were necessary – we simply enjoyed each other’s company.
And something told me we were going to be great friends.
The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.