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
I remember the night my dad died. His breath was labored. His lungs filling with fluid. He had come to the end of three grueling years of cancer treatments and at 48 years young was fearless. Fearless in the face of death. And I was scared.
He asked me to walk him back to his bedroom and as he placed his hands on my shoulders for balance, he slowly walked behind me. We almost stumbled. I was walking too fast. We laughed.
Lying next to him in bed, he asked me to read to him from the book of 1 John. So I did. We came to this passage, Chapter 4, on love. The words coming slowly.
Verse 11….Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us….
….Verse 16… And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them….
….Verse 18….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.
And then the final moment. His Spirit left. A tangible feeling, a knowing, the evaporation of life from the body returning back to God from where it came. Released from the pain of the body, the temporary light affliction, and freed into eternity.
How could he be fearless? How in his final moments could he be offering me the gift of God’s love to stay strong and be fearless too? I am only now seeing it. All the ways he instilled the Love of God into me.
Loving someone can be painful. If I hadn’t loved him so much, it wouldn’t still hurt today that he is not here, almost twenty years later. And yet God’s love for us is even more intense. It’s even more real. He shows us a million ways how much He loves us. Do we see it?
The kind words from a friend. The light in someone’s eye. The touch of a hand in a time of trouble. A hug from a child. These gifts are all around us. Helping to remind us that life is okay. We don’t have to be afraid. We are not alone.
Fear tries to reside in the dark corners of our heart to speak to us in ways that sound natural. Believable.
“You’re never going to be happy. Do you think you are special?”
“No one will love you. There’s something wrong with you.”
“The bills are coming. You aren’t going to be able to pay them all. You’re never going to get ahead.”
What are those voices that speak to you, pressuring you, lying to you, making you feel alone and separate from God? Name them. Give them a voice. Who makes up your cast of characters that are trying to run the movie of your life? The doubter? The unloved? The dictator? The perfectionist? The idiot? What do they say? How do they act when they make their appearance in your life?
Start to recognize when those loveless fear-mongers are trying to come out from behind the curtain and take center stage. And at that moment choose LOVE.
“God loves me and I can choose happiness right now over fear.”
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am worthy.”
“God provides for all my needs according to His riches in glory.”
This is how love sounds. It brings with it a sigh of relief. It lightens the load. It gives confidence and connectedness. Not separation. Learn how to discern the voices of fear and love. How? Sense the feelings the thoughts are bringing to you.
When we are tempted to be frozen with fear remember God’s love. Allow that love to wash over you and cast out fear. Say NO to those thoughts that are trying to bring forth fear and YES to those that are rooted in faith and love.
Infuse your mind with Faith. Believe more in what is not seen yet that what is seen. That is the essence of faith. If you saw it now, you’d not need faith! Ask for God’s will to be revealed to you in that moment of fear. Accept God’s love for you cannot be taken away. Unmerited. Undeserved. Overwhelming.
Even in death. There is no fear. We are just passing through. This is not our home.
Thank you, Dad, for showing me, even in your final moments, what it looks like to live without fear.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15: 53-54
Day 25 Lenten Love Prayer:
Fearless in life and fearless in death. That is how I want to live. To recklessly abandon myself and accept Your love is the most powerful thing I can do in this lifetime. Setting aside every weight. The weight of self-criticism. The weight of doubting. The weight of lack. And connecting fully to my worth which comes from You. I know it is the Spirit which gives life to the body. And the same Spirit that resided in Jesus, is living in me now. Not a lesser degree, not a lower quality, the same Spirit! It is the fear I allow to reside in my heart and mind which blocks the power of Your Love from flowing through me purely. May I recognized fear for the liar it is and cast out those characters that want me to believe I am not enough. I AM enough. I believe You have called me to be Your light in the world. May I shine as brightly as possible, allowing Your Love to power my body and draw people to You, in life and in death. I will not fear.
Day 25 Scripture:
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~ I Corinthians 13:13