Monday, July 27, 2015

[ perfect love really actually does cast out fear ]


I’ve been overthinking things. Every possible thing. 

And apparently our world is falling apart - from acts of terror and just plain evil going on on our own soil, to atrocities overseas and even just over the border, the enemy is having a heyday with the innocent and the vulnerable. Not to mention the undermining of the family and the trashing of human life being blatantly flaunted in our legislation and government.

These are things that, as a child, my paranoid self prayed to Jesus to save me from. That I wouldn’t see or hear these things while I was alive. I was afraid of pain, afraid of death, afraid of any kind of scary or uncomfortable or sad thing. I didn’t want that to be my generation…and yet somehow, even at age seven, eight, nine…I knew it would be.

I’m a little older now. And I’ve been freed from that old fearful self. But this week, I came to realize that even though Scripture states that in Jesus I have all I need for life and godliness, some of these areas of life hadn’t been tested yet.

And this week they were. Nightmares, thoughts I couldn’t shake, imaginings I never wanted to revisit came back in a flood. And my heart kept tightening up with fear. And yet, this time it was different. Instead of being a terrified-to-sleep eight year old who didn’t know the power of Jesus, I was a twenty year old who knew better. 


And yet still, the fear.

And the overthinking. 

Of everything. Future plans, heart’s desires, pulls and tugs every which way, relationships, just everything. Like I had some kind of control over them by thinking about them. Which I don’t.

I started a warring in my soul. A struggling. Assuming that victory in this was something to be struggled for, worked for, fought for. 

And then Jesus reminded me of two different conversations I’d had with two of the ladies I travel with about victory. And how the victory Jesus won has already been fought for, already done, ready to be claimed. Just claim it. Don’t draw it out, struggling for air and weighed down - just claim it. It’s mine.

So I did. I said, “Lord. There’s victory for this fear. It’s mine. I have it. I claim it in Your Name. Show me how to walk it.”

There was something else though. You see, Jesus has given us His Living Breathing Word. It’s sharper than two-edged sword. It divides truth from lie. It’s the essence of Christ in words and stories. It’s the manifestation of Himself in language. It’s a love letter from a Husband to His beloved bride. And, importantly in my case, it’s TRUE. 

Jesus reveals Himself and speaks to me in many ways. And I know He is not limited to His Word. But at the same time, it IS His Word.

So I went to it. Just began reading. Reading, reading, fully expectant, fully trusting, for Jesus to show me IN HIS WORD exactly what I needed to know to walk out victory over my overthinking and my fear.

It was seven o’clock in the morning on a rest day, so the girls were going to sleep till nine. I turned over on my tummy, pulled my Bible off the bed stand, curled up in my crazy comfortable quilt (I loooove it when there are quilts on the beds in a host home…pure joy) and picked up where I’d left off in the Psalms. 

Psalm 92. Solid. Encouraging. Praise Jesus.

Psalm 93. Love the floods and waters verses…blessed.

And then.

Psalm 94.

I mean, I think I’ve read this Psalm before. I must have, since I’ve read the Bible through several times. But I don’t think I’ve EVER read this Psalm. 

To be honest, it was so crazy perfect that I had to do a double take to make sure this was the BIBLE and not a paraphrase or an encouraging inspirational devotional or something.

No, it was really the Scripture. Straight from the heart of God.

Psalm 94
emphasis mine.

O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O LORD, how long shall the wicked
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush Your people, O LORD,
and afflict Your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “the LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge — 
the LORD —knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD,
and whom you teach out of Your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the LORD will not forsake His people;
He will not abandon His heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the LORD had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
Your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with You,
those who frame injustice by statue?
They band together against the life of righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the LORD has become my stronghold,
and my God the Rock of my Refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the LORD our God will wipe them out.

How do you respond to that, except complete and total rest of soul? This is not a verse that promises easiness, or even a promise that everything will end happy. No, it’s a declaration of the power and omniscience of God. And it’s a call. Did you catch that? “Who will stand?” 

The promise is that the LORD is our stronghold, our refuge, our strength. Because He’s asking us to stand against the wicked. Because the ultimate victory IS ours. And we know it.

So needless to say, I just stared. Then I said, “Jesus, AMEN. I believe this. I believe YOU. And I’m done worrying about this. You’ve got it.”

Then, still a little in shock, I flipped to the other spot in my Bible where I’ve been reading. The Gospels.

I’d just finished Matthew a few days before - took me foreeeevvveeerrrr because I wasn’t even truly reading it, just, you know, reading it…and yeah. I had started Mark the morning before, and read for a while, so I was about halfway through.

I read through the end of Mark. The miracles and teaching, then the trial, execution, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And as I read, I noticed the fear and lack of focus in the disciples. The argument on who should sit at the right and left of Jesus, storms on the sea of Galilee, the lack of faith and trust in the power of the Man they were walking beside - even Peter’s vow to never deny Christ. Those disciples were always freaking out about something. But then, oh, the radical change after they received the Spirit! And I realized, wait, I have the Spirit - so my life should like the POST-resurrection disciples, not their fearful, timid selves. Hm. Interesting.

And as I read the story of Christ’s death, and His prayers in Gethsemene, I saw His “take this cup prayer” in a completely different light. He wasn’t *afraid* - His flesh was screaming NO NO NO, but He had ALREADY SAID YES. He was driven, compelled by love, and wasn’t about to give up. His body didn’t want to feel that pain, go through that agony, that torture….and yet…in a way, He *did* want to. He’d already decided yes. 

“He had the Spirit.” I thought. Then, “Wait a second. IT’S *HIS* SPIRIT. And that’s what I have LIVING IN ME. It’s not a different one. The exact SAME Spirit that IS the Son of God is the same one that I draw my strength from. So I have the power to already say YES to all that pain….even when my flesh screams no.”

I read that story, let the pain and the anguish of the cross wreck my soul. Allowed myself to feel sick to my stomach at the yuck of it all - but at the same time, drew strength from watching my Savior walk the road to Calvary in love, and endure everything I’ve been afraid of for my sake….and knowing that He will give me what I need when it’s my turn. Or the turn of someone I love - and I have to be the one left behind.

All this burning on my mind, I drew on lessons and truths the Lord has revealed to me in the past month or so as I’ve been really pressing to walk this higher road. There’s a beautiful song on KLOVE right now called “Even So Come” - and it's become my heart cry.


All of creation, all of the earth
Make straight a highway, a path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon
Call back the sinner, wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of your praise
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride, waiting for her groom
We’ll be a church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing, even so come, Lord Jesus, come
Even so come, Lord Jesus, come

There will be justice, all will be new
Your Name forever, faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride, waiting for her groom
We’ll be a church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing, even so come, Lord Jesus, come
Even so come, Lord Jesus, come

So we wait, we wait for You
God we wait, You're coming soon

This is our focus. This is our heart. This our drive. Y'all, Jesus is COMING BACK! What else matters?

I also read a powerful book called Redeeming Love [by Francine Rivers]. I’m honestly not going to really recommend it - it’s heavy, it’s hard, it’s intense and you need to Jesus to show you what He wants to show you. So if He brings it to you, read it - soak it up! But don’t just read it to read it. It’s not that kind of book - or at least it shouldn’t be. And it showed me walls I had up to love from hurts in my past - walls I needed to just knock down and step over and move on from, and it opened raw weak places in my flesh. But after I read it, and processed it for a few days, I finally got my mind around this: God created me with desires. He put them there. BUT. There’s not a single one of those that He cannot completely fulfill. He created us for each other, but not in such a way that He cannot satisfy us to the uttermost with Himself. And that, my friends, is crazy, and mind-blowing, and powerful.

There are beautiful things in the world. There are things I can do with my life - work to do, places to go and live, people to love and serve, and dreams to pursue. And my heart wants them. But I see now that even my plans for next week, next month, next year, and every good thing that I could want, are simply gifts from a loving Father. He may or may not choose to give them. They’re just rainbow sprinkles on an already incredible life I’ve been given.


I know this testimony is getting long, but hey, hang in there. Bear with me...

Then, this morning on the bus, we read through the children’s twenty-two memory verses…and EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. was relevant to what Jesus revealed to me in the days before. Even starting with Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” each verse was specific, encouraging and spoke right to my soul. Later in the afternoon, I read them all aloud to Courtney and hit her with the paper cause I was so excited. Just crazy blessed by Jesus.

Romans 8:28 - “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

1 Samuel 2:2 - “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God.”

Joshua 1:9 - “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Exodus 14:14 - “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”

And then Joshua 1:9 again, cause it was on the sheet twice on accident, but I didn’t care. *smile* “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Daniel 3:28 - “[Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego] trusted in [the Lord] and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.”

John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Matthew 6:31-34 - “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

2 Peter 3:9 - “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

John 15:13 - “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

John 10:11 - “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

John 4:13-14 -  “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

Mark 10:27 - “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man, this is impossible, but no with God; all things are possible with God.’”

Romans 8 - “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Romans 12:1-2 - “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.”

My thoughts? Jesus loves me so much to be pursuing me like He is.

Just so you know, I’m crazy excited about all this. Ditch whats left of me, burn up everything in my life that’s not Jesus. Shake out the shell that is myself and get all the dust out of all the cracks and crannies so there’s no place the Spirit can’t be. Because for real, what would life look like, be like, if you’re just so completely *gone* and chasing Jesus? Scarily crazily awesome. Off on adventures, doing things I never dreamed of (or wanted to), leaving every kind of fear behind and learning more and more every day just how totally completely *enough* He is. And accepting and loving every little and big perfect gift the Father brings my way as something to be treasured and held close….but still with an open hand. 

If I could pick one verse to be my testimony, it would be 1 John 4.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him….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. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”


Y'all, I can hardly believe it. This smallish little young person who was so afraid is....get this, *not afraid anymore.* And I don't plan on being that way again. My flesh may say no, but this pre-decided yes, based on hope and faith and confidence based what I know is true of my Jesus, enables me to walk unafraid. Not because I'm strong, but because HE IS.

Peoples.

Listen.

Ditch fear. 

Believe.

Walk in the victory Jesus already purchased for you. Decide yes ahead of time to the life Jesus lived - He’s calling you to it, He will be faithful. 


It’s a promise.