For years I have been trying to understand a certain passage in the Bible. The verse is:
1 John 4:18 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.
I have listened to many pastors, teachers, evangelist, and instructors. I have read many opinions on this subject, also studied the Bible, and meditated the verses dealing with love. But in my life I have had doubts, unbelief and placed myself under condemnation in some way, which opens the door to fear. We all know that fear does have punishment that comes with it, in the form of torment. I am not unfamiliar with love; I know God loved us so much He sent His Son. God introduce me to my wife (the love of my life) and we have four kids that I love with all my heart. God saved my wife from cancer by His love. Also God has saved me hundreds of times in my lifetime. I was a “chance” in a million to even be born (hence the name Chance) and I am alive and well today doing missionary work in Bulgaria. I still struggled with this verse in understanding the full meaning of “no fear in love”, that is, until yesterday.
I am the type person that God has to occasionally hit over the head with a 2x4 to get my attention. Yesterday God showed me what love is about in His unique way concerning me (no 2X4 this time). Dee Dee and I took a friend and his family to visit his mother. When we arrived at the home for women in the mountains, several women came running to the front gate to greet my friend. One of the caretakers came to the gate and was informed he wanted to see his mother. We were going to take her and have a picnic under the apple tree beside the home. While this is going on Dee Dee and I were sitting in the car waiting and then I noticed the caretaker escorting an elderly lady. All of a sudden the elderly lady stopped, the caretaker starting pulling the elderly lady. The elderly lady sat on the ground, the caretaker started dragging her, and then the elderly lady pulled away from the caretaker in absolute fear, hiding in some bushes. The caretaker walked up to the gate and let my friend in the front gate, at the same time the elderly lady crawled out from under the bushes and was sprinting away in the opposite direction of the caretaker. Then my friend starting calling, “Momma, momma!” At this point the elderly lady saw her son and came running….all of her doubts, unbelief and fears were gone…she was running to her son. After kissing and hugging her son in an unbelievable embrace, Dee Dee and I wiped the tears from our eyes and looked at each other and said, “Love casts out fear”!
When we start learning how much God loves us and realize that He cares for us, we can start to walk in that love. We have to start by getting to know God, and knowing that He is the God of love. To run to His perfect, loving embrace and let it cast all of our fears away.
A few days ago, I had a thought about an old friend of mine when I came across a song that he liked so much back in the day. I’m almost too embarrassed to mention the song but it was Neil Diamond’s “Hello Again”. The song references “I just called to say hello” and my ole friend would always call me and say hello. I have some very fond memories of him because we grew up together. We would talk for hours about football, girls, and every other subject meaningful to a boy growing up in the south. We also argued about church things, especially the Methodist and Pentecostal movements (he would be surprised I’m a missionary today). I was with him through many of his girlfriends and a couple of his marriages, with him through the death of his dad and brother in law. After the divorce from his first wife, these pains took their toll on his life, and he began to battle with alcohol. We both had our struggles with alcohol, but dealing with the grief, guilt, and failure of his life was very hard for him to handle. We had many conversations over his last days, and he was consumed with his past (before all the tragedies in his life had occurred). He just did not want to talk about the future or face the reality of today. He had such a fear of the future and did not want to take any more chances, because he did not want to fail again. He was such a big part of my life, and I still miss him to this day.
Years before his death, my life was spinning out of control. I was struggling with alcohol and drugs and unable to let go of the past and face the future. I had made a mess of my life with my family and friends. As I happened to be sitting in jail as a result of my actions (solitaire confinement to be exact), it was the first time I was able to think about all my actions and deal with the guilt. I knelt down by the cot in the jail cell and told the Lord, “Not my way anymore, but Your way!” That was the day the Lord forgave me, and I forgave myself. I still, to this day, ask people to forgive me for all of my actions. Please forgive me. I let go of what had been holding me back all those years and gave it to the one person who could take it, Jesus. I was ready to face the future with no fear and no guilt. Now, giving to God is the easy part, but walking it out everyday, was, and still is the harder part. I do not want to limit God in my life anymore.
I tried my best to reach my friend and tell him that there is another way and let’s face the future together. He knew his destiny was heaven, but he was not willing to face the reality of today. The lesson I’m sharing today is to always humble yourself (submit), repent (change your mind), confess everything (and give it to God), take the limits off of God in your life and see how everything changes!
Daniel Chance Galloway