"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." - 1 John 4:18
These words, while a beautiful thought, have always sort of haunted me. They replay in my mind when I find that I have not quite conquered fear in my life (a daily...or at least weekly occurence!). I have learned to fight through fear and just go for it in most circumstances. And while this can be a good quality, I think it has largely kept me from experiencing what this verse really means.
As is always the case, my devotional brought up the same theme. I have found that when God is trying to teach me something, He exhausts all avenues. The same idea seems to surface everywhere I turn. When I finally sat down to ready my devotional the other day, here is what I found:
"When the story is over, the fear will be conquered; God will have delivered. The troubles will be mastered, and God will have freed the believer. The needs in life will have been met, and God will have provided for every need." - Dennis Kinlaw, This Day with the Master, August 12
I immediately called to mind the verse listed above. "There is no fear in love...perfect love drives out fear" kept replaying in my mind like a broken record. Those words and Kinlaw's words convicted me and caused a longing to awaken in me. The refrain is not unfamiliar to me...
I kept thinking...I want fear to be conquered in my life now. I want to be freed from worry and fear now. I want my needs to be met now. I just want to live free in the now.
Then it happened. I had what I like to call a "mini-ephiphany." A moment of absolute clarity where it all just comes together for me. I don't imagine it will be earth-shattering for many of you but I thought I'd share it anyway.
As I sat and reflected about that verse and what I had read in my devotional, it all just began to make perfect sense to me. I don't have to conquer fear. I don't have to try and free myself from worry. I don't have to know how everything is going to work and how. It is not up to me to have that perfect love that drives out fear. I just have to cling to the One who does...
It occurs to me that I might be making sense to no one but myself at this point, so let me put it differently. It seems to me that the verse should read (at least in our minds), "There is no fear in love because God is love. God, who is perfect love, drives out our fear. He drives it out because fear has to do with punishment and those of us who love and live in God know that this is not the end of the story. We need not fear because we are covered by the perfect love of God."
I knew it before, but it became clearer to me the other day...it is not up to me. I'll still have fear here and there, but I need not try to conquer it on my own. I'll just allow myself to be embraced by the One who embodies the perfect love and has the power to drive it out.
I'm done fighting through my fears on my own. Where has it gotten me anyway? Maybe it has made me a little "tougher" or (worse) given me some sense of false pride in my ability to overcome. It never lasts...and it shouldn't.
I am determined to live free in this life. I believe I can, not because I have the power to do so, but because I know the One who does. And there is no fear in Him...