Some days, it is all I can do to mask my own fears, let alone confront the horrors of the world outside my own home. This last year has been especially terrifying for my little family. Having to attend the funeral of your own child opens your eyes to a whole new level of fear that you never knew existed. Death is always confronting. But parents should never have to bury their children. This experience leaves you not only terrified, but also angry. My biggest fear this year has been that I will become a bitter old woman. I could feel myself setting foot on that path.
A little over a week ago, December 9 in fact, I turned 30 years old. I am too young to become a bitter old woman. This year for my birthday I decided I would ask God to give me a gift. Hey, why not?
I asked him this year to give me freedom from bitterness and freedom from fear. He has graciously given me more than I asked for. But its the fear that I wanted to talk about today because I believe that this is the key to freedom from just about everything else that may hold you captive.
What is the opposite of fear? Courage? Bravery? Recklessness?
Courage and bravery are easy conclusions to draw. But I think that the true opposite of fear is deeper than that. From where do you draw courage and bravery? Depending on its source, courage and bravery could simply be recklessness or even foolishness masquerading as the opposite of fear.
I have come to see that the opposite of fear is love. But not just any kind of love. The opposite of deep seeded, heart-wrenching fear is Perfect love.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:14-18)On reflection, it is those times when I have felt most unloved when I have felt the most afraid. The other day my 6 year old busted my husband and I having a smooch in the kitchen. He always gets the giggles when he sees us kiss. I asked him how it makes him feel when he sees Mummy and Daddy kiss each other. Looking at me with his beautiful big green eyes he said, "It makes me feel safe."
Perfect love casts out fear...
One day I will tell you the full story of what God has been showing me about Himself in the last few months. But the key thing I see now is His perfect, steadfast and personal love for me as His precious little girl. He loves me perfectly as a great Dad loves his kids. His plans are for my good, and He promises abundant provision for all of my needs. As I come to not just understand this, but to accept His love and allow myself to trust in His love, I no longer feel afraid. I am loved personally and perfectly by the God of all creation... what claim does fear have on me now?
As I surrender to this perfect love I feel more freedom in myself to love without fear. I can now press into this first Christmas without my little Hudson with the freedom to love through my grief. I feel more free to love those people who have not been particularly lovable. I feel more able to forgive for the hurts that will not be acknowledged. I have freedom to look forward to the future with hope and expectation, rather than as one who has ceased to look for any coming gladness. This freedom comes from knowing how deeply I am loved. His love is endless and perfect. So I choose to press into His love, because it is there where I feel most safe.