No room for fear

My middle daughter has had stitches to her cheek from a fall into an open dresser drawer, a chipped a tooth, and a staple to her head from spinning into the coffee table--all in the last year. Now, every bump and cry makes my heart jump. Last week she ran out alone across a parking lot, ignoring our instructions to stop. No cars were coming but I relived that scene over later, thinking of the big truck that may have come by seconds sooner. And my hearts twisted with fear. 

At times I am so afraid. 

Years ago, I was asked to think of a word that defined me. The word "fear" inexplicably popped into my head. I've thought about that often through the years, wondering about the truth of it.

Fear comes in lots of flavors for me. I don't just fear for my kids. I fear disapproval. I fear disappointing anyone and everyone--even you, reader. 

Can you relate? Your fears are probably different than mine, but their grip is tight.

What do we do with this fear? I am meditating on 1 John 4. Here is a section of the chapter:
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 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. 17 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. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 

Perfect love casts out fear. What does that mean? Does that mean if I achieve perfect love for God, then I won't fear? I don't think that's what the context indicates. If you look at what comes before this verse, you'll see that this is talking about Spirit abiding in us through faith, and us abiding in Him. And that perfect love--that's GOD HIMSELF ("God is love" verse 16). 

Tucked into the life of God, there is no room for fear. Fear just gets bumped out in a space so filled with perfect love.

You see, I need more love in my life. I skip in and out of God's love like a kid in rainboots. I need to soak in it like a hot tub until it warms my bones.

Fear tells me I'm alone. Fear puts the weight on my shoulders. But Jesus says, I am with you always.

There is such power in presence. From 2nd grade to 4th grade, my Navy chaplain Dad was assigned to a ship and was gone for weeks and months at a time. We lived in southern California at the time. When he was gone, my mom would hear every bump in the night and never slept soundly. But when he returned, his mere presence put us all at ease. That's the power of the presence of someone you trust and put your faith in. 

Dwelling in the presence of Jesus, in you as a gift of God, not of any work you do, casts out fear. No one can reason you out of your fears or tell you nothing bad will happen. It might. Maybe it already has. 

But God loves you perfectly. He is unhindered by your sin or your hard heart. He is love. Abide in that love and let it unravel your fears.

How do we practically dwell in God's presence? I know whole books have been written on the subject by people much wiser than me, but here are a few ideas:

Pray. Prayer isn't magic. Prayer is talking to the friend who is right there and who wants to talk back to you if you will listen. He is not far from us.
"and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist," Acts 17:26-27
In times of desperation, I often ask, "God what do you want me to know right now?"
Be still. Fears scream and demand attention. They are frenzied. Slow them down. Get quiet enough in your heart to listen to His voice. He is not pushy or rude. He is patient and gentle with you. Edward Welch writes, "One of the first steps in combating fear and worry is to slow down. 'Be still' (Psalm 46:10) is another of God's exhortations to fearful people" (Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest).

Sing about His greatness and love. I am listening to No Longer Slaves and Holy Spirit today. Singing helps me rise above the fears right in my face and think more eternally.

Notes: I just started using the Blue Letter Bible app on my phone. It's basically a free Bible  concordance amd study tool.  You can look up words in the original language. It also has commentaries and sermons related to your passage. I clicked on a Charles Spurgeon sermon the other day and it was awesome!

Also I sell a printable Scripture card set in the shop especially for the anxious-hearted out there.

And just for fun:

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