The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
During last night’s church service, we talked about fear and how what we fear most represents the area of our lives where we are trusting God the least. This got me thinking about what it is that scares me the most. I’ve been afraid of many things in my life, but as different experiences have come to pass, there simply isn’t much left that really shakes me up. The thought of losing people whom I love still looms large on that list, but the biggest fear I have is of not meeting the expectations that God has for me as His child. Every day I find areas where I’m still falling short of what I believe He would want me to do or how He would want me to act, but for some reason I seem to be refusing to fix those areas. Not out of any sense of malice toward God; more out of a sense of not feeling good enough to continue down His path. I think everyone struggles with something at one time or another, but really, should we still be harboring issues of low self-esteem if we truly believe that God loves us? Isn’t His love better than any other love we can find here on earth? If so, and if we know He loves us through our shortcomings, then why do we still feel so undeserving?
I feel compelled to answer that last question by saying we feel undeserving because we are told so often as Christians that we don’t deserve the sacrifice that God made for us by allowing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Somehow, we are supposed to come to an understanding that His love is unconditional while at the same time understanding that we didn’t deserve the biggest, most significant display of His love for us which was intended to be a gift. It doesn’t really make sense, but I guess, maybe it isn’t supposed to fit into our very small, very human idea of what true love really is. It’s like He said, I’m going to do this for you to show you I love you, but you really don’t deserve it…which should reinforce just how much I truly do love you. In anyone else, that might seem rather abusive, but in our God it just gives us one more example of how little we understand Him.
God doesn’t want us to spend our lives dwelling on how much we can do to deserve His love. When we do this, we inevitably do either too little to meet the mark or too much of what isn’t necessary. We overdo the works and lay off of the faith. Or we lean too heavily on faith and grace and forget to do anything worthwhile. With God, it’s about achieving a balance of wanting to know Him, needing to know Him and at the same time, trying desperately to know Him so that we can have an inkling of who we really are. There is a part of Him in all of us and until we come to terms with who God is to us, we cannot love what He loves about us. That’s the great mystery. And if we are ever to solve it, our focus cannot be forever turned inward, looking at who we should be, who we shouldn’t be, who we have been and who we hope to be. It has to be on who He is in us.
So, when He says to us, “Whom shall I fear?” our answer should be no one because if God lives in each one of us, then we need to learn how to first see Him in ourselves and then try our best to find out how He is working in the lives of others. While it may seem like there are some people out there in whom nothing Godly is happening, don’t be fooled. He lives in each and every one of us and wherever we find ourselves on the continuum; devout Christian to lowly sinner, we are all deserving of His love and we are all part of a much bigger plan that only He can see and understand.
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~