“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…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 4:16-18).
Fear. Worry. Peace. Abundant Life. These words that have jumped out at me over the past few days in various quotes from Ann Voskamp’s Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift.
“All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy). This quote was a little gem tucked away in the middle of a paragraph in the Advent devotional. It stopped me in my tracks and sent me scurrying for my journal in order to write it down.
I think this is because fear is something I am well acquainted with in life. Oh, I might call it by more acceptable terms such as anxiety or worry but the underlying issue is the same. It pretty much boils down to a fear – of something not going as planned, of the unknown, of how other’s perception of me, of not living up to expectations (mine or others), etc.
The first few synonyms I found when looking up the definition for fear were: terror, fright, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation and dread (anxiety and worry, those polite terms, were there too but much further down on the list). I would not choose any of these terms to define the way I live my life but in reality it may be closer to the truth than I realize.
Chesterton’s quote is saying this fear all boils down to a lack of trust in God’s love for me. While I’d like to think my belief in God’s love is strong, I think my feelings and actions might speak otherwise. So what do I do about this?
Ann Voskamp’s devotional offers a solution: “Worry is belief gone wrong. Because you don’t believe that God will get it right. Peace is belief that exhales. Because you believe that God’s provision is everywhere–like air” (The Greatest Gift).
So maybe it is not necessarily about trying to change my lack of faith in God’s love for me but instead coming to a place of peace about how God will provide for me in all areas of my life. And, in doing so, the rest may eventually follow.
The Greatest Gift also said, “That is always the secret to the abundant life: to believe that God is where you doubt He can be.” Abundant life from John 10:10 is something I have sought after in my own life over the last few years. And if it all starts by first figuring out where I doubt God then I seem to be on the right track here!
Because it seems like deep down I doubt God’s love and don’t trust in Him coming through for me when it really counts. That hurts to write out but I need to realize this is only my starting point. And so it can be for you too.
Your beginning in all this can be the place where you honestly come before God with your fears and worries while at the same time having confidence He will provide you with peace and abundant life at the other end. So then, let me ask you: “What is your starting point?”