Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
As I sat before the Lord early in the morning, I brought to him something in myself, a flaw, something that I perceived emanates from a root of fear. As I was speaking to him about it, the Scripture came into my mind, "perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18) Meditating on the Word of God is crucial in creating a foundation for our lives, for our attitudes, for our responses. The surface meaning of a passage may not be sufficiently refined in our understanding, to produce the desired end in us. The Bible contains several words which are translated in English as "meditate." One of them, "sachat," means to squeeze out as grapes. And that's what I found myself doing that morning, squeezing out that verse, meditating on it prayerfully until the dross was cleared up and the new wine flowed. As I thought on the passage awhile I wondered, "then why do I still have fear if his love for me is perfect?" But first I my attention was drawn to what it's NOT saying. The common interpretation of this verse has been that the perfect love of God casts fear out of us. But that's not what it's saying, or at least there is another way to look at it. It's not referring to God's love for us because if it were, all fear would be gone as soon as a person has been the recipient of his love which is perfect. No. It's talking about OUR love - for HIM! When we have walked with the Lord for awhile, as we grow in our experience of him, as we come to see his faithfulness and mature in the awareness of his active participation in our lives, that will bring about, if we let it, such a growth of trust in him, such a developing love for him, that it truly does cast out fear. So it's not that God's perfect love casts out fear, but that as our love for HIM becomes perfected, it casts out fear. I nearly jumped from my chair! I SAW it! In many years of walking with the Lord, we've been through some deep valleys together, through thorns and briars and through the fire. In all of these situations, the Lord has manifested himself to me and delivered me from all the troubles. Truly, truly can I say, "all things work together for the good to those who love God..." But the point is that as we see the Lord bring us through trials and deliver us, and help and provide for us, sometimes miraculously, we grow slowly and at times imperceptibly in a love for him which brings about a trust base that after awhile becomes a solid living foundation in our nature. Indeed he has told us that he gives us peace, but then defines it as a peace that the world is incapable of giving. As we experience him, we grow in the understanding of the nature of that kind of peace. Who, having experienced it, could ever explain it? So these things work together: learning trust through experiencing his constant provision and deliverance, and receiving his peace, which is of an entirely different nature than any other ever experienced. Thus we grow from experience to experience, and in all of our stories we can see -- if we're trained to recognize them -- the fingerprints of the Lord all over them, and we can't help but grow in a living and abiding love for him. When reading that morning, I realized that even in the light of all he has done there is still some fear that is hanging on for dear life. But it's chipped, and worn, and bedraggled, and tired, and just waiting to flee. And it will - because it has no possibility of survival in the presence of a love of God that is developing toward that "perfect love," which will finally cast away all fear!