There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:18-19
I will forever be grateful to my old softball buddy Dan for showing me a trick that provided a major “Aha!” moment for me in raising my own daughter. When his daughter was about six months old, Dan would cup his hand underneath her feet, and instinctively she would lock her knees and stick her arms out, giggling and shrieking with joy as Dan balanced her on his hand. I sat on his couch drop-jawed at how much his daughter loved it and how she almost begged for her daddy to keep doing it. Fast-forward the years to when, over the softest mattress in the house, I decided to gently cup the chunky feet of my then six-month-old daughter. Just like my friend’s daughter years ago, Addy locked up her knees, and immediately she was doing her own balancing act like someone standing on top of a flag pole in midair with the most ecstatic look I had seen yet on her beautiful face. In fact, as soon as I’d swoop her back into my chest, her countenance would drop like a six-year-old driving away from Disneyland.
I have to thank my buddy again for that incredible gift. You see, both our daughters demonstrated that they were completely absent of fear. They were both along for the ride provided by their fathers. And the rides were pure joy. Regrettably, though, both of our girls slowly were overcome by fear in some way; it wasn’t long before they stopped locking their legs as they became more and more concerned with their own safety and only trusting themselves. It’s human nature after all. Before Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they had no concept of fear. They had no concept of being naked! Check out what happened as they both ate from the tree in Genesis chapter 3:9-10:
But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
What you have just witnessed is the first appearance of fear for humankind. Throughout human history, fear has been both a weapon of evildoers and a self-imposed exile that enslaves good people. But if fear enslaves so many, who can enslave fear?
You can enslave fear in your life by being obedient to God’s call to love, by loving him and loving others as yourself. This is one part self-determination and one part dependence. You must determine for yourself that you will become dependent on his love for your assurance that all will turn out right. The more we love God, the less fear we will have in our lives. Be thankful today that God loves us first and he’s enough to lean on when we’re fearful and want to hide. He wants us to learn the joy of balancing in his hand once again.
Questions to ponder
What is something that you used to do that might scare you now if you were to do it again? What’s the difference between now and then?
What’s the first memory you have of being afraid? How did you face or run from that fear?
How can remembering God first loving us and offering his grace to us help you lead a more obedient and fearless life? Take a moment to thank God for being bigger than all your fears.