Fear, Perfect Love and Thankfulness

My mom used to say, "The more a baby sleeps, the more a baby sleeps." I thought about that this morning because it could be said of me right now, "The more Shari reads, the more Shari reads." I have also found, through experience, that "The more one thinks about God, the more one thinks about God."

I have been reading so many books lately, including my Bible of course. And yesterday I even started listening to "Pilgrim's Progress" in my car on audio CD. I pulled into my garage yesterday, still listening, and sat in the car for several minutes because I didn't want to interrupt my listening. I was listening to the mistake Christian had made by turning away from the cross and going to the house of Legality. The book had my complete attention.

In our small group Tuesday night, we talked about how God seems to be calling each of us, in similar ways and at the same time, to a deeper dedication and to more focus on Him. It was really exciting to me to hear that others in my group were experiencing this same tugging on their hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Our church has early morning prayer at 6:30 am, 365 days a year, for anyone and everyone who wants to come. I have thought many times that this is something I should participate in one day. But to get to the church by 6:30 would be quite challenging for me. One of the girls in our small group has been going frequently to early morning prayer lately and was telling us what a difference it has made in her life. A couple of us shared that God had been putting early morning prayer on our hearts recently and that we were intending to go, also.

While I couldn't seem to sleep past 5:00 in recent months, I started to think that maybe God was intending to make it less of a challenge for me. Then, suddenly, I have started sleeping until 6:00. And I have needed the sleep. But I have also made up my mind that, with God's help, I'm going to make it to early morning prayer very soon even if I have to set the alarm and go with my "real" morning face. : )

I have to say that since having a couple of months straight where I was not sleeping, and was awake for the day between 4:00 and 5:00 (occasionally 2:30 am), I've been waking up so thankful for good sleep. I had no idea how much I needed sleep until I wasn't sleeping. Before I had any sleep issues, I didn't really think to be thankful for good rest. But after having trouble sleeping, I'm so thankful now when I sleep well.

There are so many things we take for granted. I never appreciated my shoulder and how well it worked until after I had frozen shoulder and tendonitis of the rotator cuff for almost a whole year. I didn't appreciate all the ways my neck and upper back helped to move my body until (years ago) all my internalized stress located in this part of my body and I was not only in constant pain but could not move my neck. I had no idea my neck played any role in helping me get in or out of a car until my neck muscles were in distress. When I could move normally again, I was so thankful for the ease of movement when all my muscles were working in harmony and doing their job. Many of the times when internalized stress has manifested itself in my physical body, I can look back and recognize that fear and anxiety were the root cause of my suffering.

There are so many aspects of my life today that I appreciate more fully because I have had seasons of suffering. Whether it's physical or emotional or both, I have found that joy is often birthed through suffering. And through every experience, God is teaching me how to trust Him more fully. The greater the suffering, the greater my joy in deliverance.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that God has been speaking to me about and helping me with my fear of man (or people). I struggle so much with the fear of rejection. I fear rejection to the point that I anticipate it (when maybe it wasn't even intended). I just want to be loved and accepted. I want to be assured I am loved. And I have a tendency to plead for assurance in roundabout ways. My husband has many pet names for me. One he frequently calls me is, "My little affirmation seeker." And I recognize that I am constantly seeking affirmation from other people in my life. I don't need to be praised, but I do seem to need affirmation and validation from others. However, I know that God wants my validation to come only from Him. And so I am trying to shed this part of my personality through faith in the Gospel. God has been helping me with this a lot lately. And one of the ways He has helped me is through the book He allowed me to discover, "When People are Big and God is Small."

I have been reading different books in the New Testament out of sequence. I read all the gospels early in the year. I read Acts and listened to it a couple of times on CD in the car. I love to read Romans, Galatians and Ephesians repeatedly and have also listened to those while driving. More recently, I have read Paul's letters to the Corinthians and to Timothy. And I've found that the message of each book seems to lodge more in my heart if I read the same books more than once before going on to another.

I woke up this morning with the thought in my head that I needed to read 1 John. And when I did, I instantly knew why the Holy Spirit was prompting me to read this book. 1 John 4:18 ties right in to what God was showing me about fear and selfless (perfect) love yesterday. I ended yesterday's post with the verse from Proverbs. And I began my day today with 1 John.

1 John 5:5 has been one of my favorite passages the last few years because John is telling us that we overcome the world by faith in Christ and that everyone who is born of God (through faith in His Son) overcomes the world. This passage has comforted my heart and eased my lifelong fear of "not making it." God gives us the assurance through His Living Word that He has begun the work and He will complete it. He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

I hope this will encourage you as it has encouraged me this morning. God is so good.

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 4:18

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
-1 John 5:1-5


Anonymous said…
Just a quick note to tell you, I love, love, love to read your writings. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Hugs and Kisses,
Shari said…
Since I emailed you in response to your comment, I haven't responded here. But let me just also say that even though we don't get to see each other often, I value your friendship greatly. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
Love you!