Have you ever experienced the oh so gentle, yet precise, piercing of God’s truth through your soul?
I recently received a new piercing; one that is still a bit tender.
You see, I’ve been on this Love Quest for 2106, seeking to learn more about God’s love and how to better love Him and others. I struggle to love. Hence my journey.
Most people would probably say that the opposite of love is hate, but the more I’m submerged in my study, I’m not so sure that’s true.
God has been turning my Love Quest upside down and giving me a look at it’s underbelly – taking me in directions I never anticipated going. He’s turning my pursuit of love into an extraction of fear. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s more of a connection between love and fear, than love and hate.
If you read my last Love Quest blog (Fear – Be My Guide), you know that I faced a fear not too long ago. I had to entrust myself to a hunk of metal hurtling through the air, 30,000 feet above the surface of the earth.
As I grappled with this fear, the Holy Spirit did some excavating in the deepest parts of me – digging down deep to the root of my fear. He revealed to me that the source of my fear was actually misplaced love.
I was afraid to fly because I was afraid to die. And the truth behind the fear of death is that I love my life more than I love God and trust Him.
And then it dawned on me that misplaced love has been the theme of most all my other fears, worries, and anxieties. I see how I’ve loved the good opinion of people more than I’ve loved God’s good opinion. And that misplaced love caused me to over-analyze and become anxious about the words I say and what I do – hoping that others will have a good opinion of me, will approve of me. I’m just like the Jewish religious leaders who were afraid to confess belief in Christ.
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (John 12:42-43)
Ouch. How would you like to go down in history with, “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God,” as your legacy? Not me. No thank you.
I see myself in Peter, too.
Our impulsive friend Peter who, because he loved the approval of man and his own life, denied his identification with Christ three times, as the Savior was making His way to the cross to die for people who didn’t love Him like they should – people like you and me and Peter. I might as well have been standing in Peter’s shoes because I would have done the same exact thing.
But it was this next realization about Peter’s story and mine that’s still stirring my soul, and I think forever will.
Do you remember what the resurrected Jesus asked Peter by the sea shore? Jesus’ approach to reconciling the traitorous Peter was to bring Peter face to face with what Christ ultimately desires for us all. The questions He asks us all: “Do you love me more than these?”
“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” John 21:15-17
In my ears ring the questions: “Daughter of mine, do you love me more than what others think of you? Do you love me more than your own hopes and dreams? Do you love me more than this tent of dust I’ve put you in temporarily? Do you love me more than your husband and children? Do you love me more than your own thoughts and logic?
If fear begins to rage within me, the answer to one of those questions is usually no.
Fear is misplaced love.
When I’m afraid to fly, it’s because I love this life more than I love the Savior.
When I’m afraid of what others might think or do, it’s because I love the approval of man more than the good approval of God.
When I fear in any way for my children, it’s because I love control of them more than I love the sovereign hand of God.
But the reverse is also true.
If misplaced love breeds fear, then rightly placed love breeds confidence. As my love settles more and more on my Maker, I’m finding deeper trust, peace, and rest in His character and His plan for not only my life, but for all of creation. But it’s an ongoing process of noticing areas of misplaced love, forsaking those things, and letting my love cling to Him instead.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
Never has it rung so true to me as it does now.
We are not victims to fear. We are willing participants, walking right into the darkness it brings.
But the solution, the cure, is summed up so simply:
And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Luke 10:27)
Is this a truth that pierces you as it does me?
Place your love where it belongs.