The Practical Power of God’s Love

Christian Life & Theology

This post is from the archives.

Josh and I celebrated our one year anniversary on February 1st, during which we retreated to a no-internet (mostly) zone in the West Virginia Appalachian mountains for a ski trip. It was there that I decided to put blogging on the back burner until the end of this first week of March. I’ll tell you why.

I’ve never considered myself a ‘fearful’ person, probably because I pictured fearful people as timid, nervous, and hesitant to be bold or take risks. I’m equally comfortable riding a new horse, trying a new ski run or learning a new computer program at work. I’ve always thought I liked change. So because of how I defined fear, I never saw it in my heart.

We were sitting in a warm-up lodge, hiding from -7 degree weather before taking another ride up the lift as I scrolled through my phone. There had been a recent uptick on my {years old} modesty posts, something that often fills me with dread due to the perpetual animosity bound to come my way. I was discouraged.

“I don’t even know WHAT to write anymore,” I told Josh. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take – and my own friends are sharing a satire post that was written expressly to mock mine.”

“You’re forgetting all the emails you’ve received from the girls you write for,” Josh replied. “The negativity is hard, yes, but that’s not all there is to it.” He took away my phone and turned it off. “Don’t write anything unless the Lord leads you to it. That’s where you started, and that’s where you need to stay.”

So I didn’t write. I studied 1 John all month and dealt with work, school, and some health issues (nothing terribly big). Somewhere in those weeks, Josh and I had a fight.  Through that fight I started searching into my motives in many of the things I’ve said and done in relationships – the side my readers can’t see when all they read is this blog. But there are plenty of people who read this who DO know me outside of it, and like everyone, I have my major flaws.

Our fight was over something rather small and ridiculous, but it made me intensely angry. Josh was completely befuddled over why I was so irate, and even I couldn’t really understand where my emotions were coming from… until it dawned on me:  Fear.

You see, fear isn’t nervousness, timidity, or trembling. Fear is directly related to the things most important to us. When those things are threatened, we get defensive, angry, and insecure.  Fear is about control: If life begins to get out of control, out of the comfort zone, I pull back to my defensive line and use anger to distract from the real issue at hand.

This situation drove me to address those fears: write them down, get to the root of them, and see where they were contrary to the promises God has given. First John provided the perfect answer for me in the midst of this study:

“…we have come to know and believe the love God has for us… [And] there is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:16, 18)

We must first know the love God has for us. To know is an intimate suggestion; to know someone personally, like I know Josh. The love God has for us is not something to philosophize about but to pursue, experience, and enjoy. By knowing His love we are then in a position to believe it: fully trusting in who He is and the gracious kindness He desires to show to us.

When we live in both the knowledge and trust of God’s love, there is no room for fear. My fears of failure, inadequacy, and ‘never enough’ are consumed by the fire of God’s undefineable love for me. When I focus on my inadequacies, I lash out defensively when I feel threatened. But when I trust God’s love for me, I seek to please Him with all I am while resting in securely in who He has already made me.

Long ago I could never have written a blog where I strive to have balance on many touchy issues – my temper and ‘black and white’ nature would not have allowed it. God has worked on this for a while, but this month I saw the true cause of anger. It’s not ‘being born with a temper’. It’s insecurity and lack of control. When security and trust are found in something outside ourselves – God Himself – we are freed from the bondage to our own standards of perfection.

I wrote this today because the Lord put it on my heart to do so  – or, as Josh advised, I wouldn’t have written it. Nobody has it all together, but that doesn’t make sin okay (and anger and fear are both sins, because they are contrary to God’s perfect nature). It means I – and you – draw closer to the God who has reached down to make us whole and holy, the only place where we can find security outside ourselves and relief from every fear.

He is the only Perfect Love, and He is the safest love we can ever know.


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