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. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 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
“We fear being sued, finishing last, going broke; we fear the mole on the back, the new kid on the block, the sound of the clock as it ticks us closer to the grave. We sophisticate investment plans, create elaborate security systems, and legislate stronger military, yet we depend on mood-altering drugs more than any other generation in history. Moreover, ‘ordinary children today are more fearful than psychiatric patients were in the 1950s.’
“Fear, it seems, has taken a hundred-year lease on the building next door and set up shop. Oversize and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies and leaves. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Clear thinking and afraid? Confident and afraid? Merciful and afraid? No. Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and unproductive. For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.
“Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.”
– Max Lucado, Fearless
I must start with a confession. My wife had open heart surgery a little over three weeks ago, and I was scared. Her heart had stopped when she had a carotid artery cleaned a few years ago. She had a long list of heart-related incidents. Then again, no one having open heart surgery could be considered in perfect health and the surgeon was highly experienced. My wife always thought that she was more like her father than her mother. Yet, both had open heart surgery. Her father died at 61, her mother at 91. My wife had already lived longer than he father.
Usually, I am the calm partner in our relationship. Okay, I show anger and frustration. Emotions come easy, but worry is usually not my style. My wife is the worrier. Yet, she was calm until they were prepping her for surgery. When we alone, she asked me if it was too late to back out. The nurse in the hallway overheard and came in with a calm, but firm, lecture. As my wife was being wheeled into the surgical theater, she was cracking jokes and making everyone laugh.
I guess that is the first sign regarding either my wife or me. If we start telling jokes for no apparent reason, the underlying reason is probably an increase in stress. Might I say ‘fear’? Sometimes the two of us do not realize the stress ourselves. Yet, we are learning to live by faith – that living in total trust that God has this. (Whatever the ‘this’ is.)
My wife and I have discovered that God is almost always ‘last minute’. Maybe that is because my wife openly worries, and I might have my doubts that are deeply suppressed. But nevertheless, things happen just as we need them. In a way, God is saying, “I did this for you, just in time, to let you know that you are mine, you are loved, and there is no need to worry or fear.”
While I agree with Max Lucado, I could argue about fear being unproductive. A brush with death, major surgery, or an illness can cause fear but can also motivate. You turn to Satan and say, “No. I am not having any of your fear, but I will use this incident in my life to motivate me to eat right, exercise more, or help others more. So, Satan, get your weak stuff out of here. I will follow Jesus instead. I may be a bit timid at times, but Jesus is my strength.”
While my wife is on Coumadin, we are having to adjust our diet. We hope this drug is temporary. Yet, she also wants to exercise more, short-term to reduce the water retention. Maybe better health habits will be established during this temporary recovery period.
But my wife also wants more adventure. She wants to get out more. There are museums in Pittsburgh that we have never been to, and we’ve lived here over twenty years. Funny, when my wife mentioned going to more museums, we both thought of Andy Warhol at the same time. Why? I have no idea.
And there are people that we have not helped. We have little means for ourselves, but what of those people with less? They may have more time left on earth than we do. While our time is running out, their resources are running out. If we rely on God to not worry about finances, can we still have the same amount of faith with a few dollars less in our pockets?
God has granted us one more day. Today. To whom can we show love today?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.