Thursday, February 12, 2009

No Fear in Love

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
1 John 4:18

The amount of love I hold for a child who is not yet born is sometimes frightening. I find myself in deep thought, imagining what he will look like and who he will favor. I get caught up in the fact that his ultrasound pictures give the impression that his nose looks like mine, and from becoming obessive over his daily patterns, I have no doubt that he will be as energetic and playful as his father is. I have realized though that this child isn't exactly mine, and I'm not guaranteed one day with him.

Yet, I can remember being a little girl and loving my father in a similar way. I looked forward to his walking through the door each evening, and I loved hearing other people tell me that I looked just like my daddy. I was so wrapped up in the things he said to me, and his approval meant more to me than anything anyone could say. Unfortunately, there were days when his words cut like a knife, and his punishment left my heart aching.

How is it that we will love so much when we have been made to believe that love sometimes fails us? I can recall times when love actually hurt. From middle school relationships to losing loved ones, there were moments in my life when I thought love was not love at all. It was an emotion that caused pain, and it had the possibility of tearing the deepest parts of me apart. With that pain in mind, I often steered clear of love. I hid myself and my heart from being loved. I knew what love had the capability of doing.

That's until I truly learned what love was. I cannot remember exactly when it happened, but a lifetime of major events have occurred to help me see where and WHO love comes from. It happened when I bowed at an altar as a ten-year-old girl and again, when I looked into the eyes of a young preacher that God had intended for me to marry. It happened when my father led me down the aisle and gave me away, and it showed up when I saw my child's beating heart on an ultrasound screen. They are things that happen often in day to day lives, but the magnitude of each act of love was the foreshadowing of a love much greater than I could ever give.

It came from a Father who accepted me as His own. It came from a God that wanted me to be loved. It came from a Father who gave her daddy the grace to let go. It came from a God that was beautifully knitting a child in the womb. That same Father had allowed His own Son to be sacrificed. He had watched as His Son cried out to Him on the cross. He had felt the pain of love in ways I could never comprehend. Yet that same Father understood when my heart was broken and was afraid to love. He allowed me to love without fear. He taught me that true love really was unconditional, and no amount of pain can keep me from loving others as He loved me.

Sometimes love gets the best of us. It often brings out the worst in us. It causes us to do things we would not ordinarily do. It can lead to pain and brokenness. But that is not what God intended. He wanted us to see what love truly was... From birth to His death, Jesus was (and is) love, and because of Him, we can learn to love as we should.

I look back on those days of admiring my daddy and look forward to loving a child of my own, and now I see that it is through Christ that I was and am able to do that at all. God used my father as a means of teaching me to love Him, and He is teaching me how to love a child that is His own. Love isn't supposed to be overwhelming or frightening; it should be a gift that God has given us, and we should learn to do so as He would.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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