Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfraid of the Dark~ As a little girl in ponytails, I felt sure monsters glowered at me through the dark with gaping mouths and goony eyes! As I lay in my bed, one thought surged through me. What if the monsters get me? I tugged the covers over my head allowing a small opening for my mouth and nose. Sometimes I peeked into the dark with my big brown eyes staring at the corners of my room. Where my clothes once lay, a fat monster glared at me. Monsters lurked under my bed. They reached up their claws searching for little me (of all the boys and girls in the world, why they found such interest in me I’ll never know). One night as I lay hiding beneath my covers, I heard my older sister Wendy singing a Christian song. The monsters in my room disappeared for the moment. I recalled Wendy’s Sunday school memory verse, the one on the little white card. As she had repeated it I had memorized it too “When I am afraid I will trust in you” (God) (Psalm 56:3, NIV). I also knew the truth from John 3:16 about how much God loved me. However, I had not let this truth settle into my heart.
Fear Not~ In fifth grade swimming class I trembled when it came my turn to jump into the deep end for the first time. In junior high, when it came my turn to climb the rope to the gym ceiling, I felt so afraid I fled aimlessly. Only when I stopped running did I realize I had entered the boy’s locker room (Talk about scary places for a teenage girl!) I also remember feeling all the blood rush to my face when my ninth grade algebra teacher called on me for my answer. As an adult, I remember when a bear visited Jeff’s and my honeymoon cabin. I was popping some popcorn at the time. I ended up burning most of it, which the bear noisily ate from our garbage around midnight. Like popcorn, fear inflates the “what if’s” inside the heart. If not countered, it soon overcrowds faith. Someone has added up how many times the Bible said not to fear. They came up with 365 times-one for every day of the year. It’s almost as if God knew how quick the human heart could fill with fear. God also knew the stifling, paralyzing nature of fear.
Faith is~ I used to think the Bible characters never struggled with fear. Yet as I study, I realize this simply isn’t true. Hebrews 11:34 says of the great faith warriors that their weakness was turned to strength. On their own, they felt fearful like you and me. With faith in God, people like Abraham, Joseph, Joshua, and Gideon overcame. Faith is singing a song to God in the dark. Faith is taking steps into the unknown when he asks us to follow him. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. We cannot see God. That is why fear sometimes feels bigger than God. When we let fear take over, we magnify the object of our fear through the lens of imagination. On the other hand, when we think about God, we remember his attributes, his character, and the real life miracles he has already done. We realize how big he is. Fear no longer dominates. Philippians 4:6 says not to be anxious but to pray. Among other things, verse 8 of that same chapter says to think about what is … lovely. Instead of hiding beneath covers, when we choose to think about our lovely God, each fear becomes a new opportunity to gain a firmer grasp of “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18, NIV). I cannot fully grasp God’s love but I continue to strive to take hold of that perfect love which drives out fear (1 John 4:18a). Somehow, as I do, the monsters disappear.

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