Daily Devotions this week are being provided by our St. John’s Certified Lay Ministers. Today’s devotion is from Cari Neill.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
I tend to be a perfectionist. I am mostly a perfectionist when it comes to myself and my own work. It is hard to be a perfectionist and read that if I am fearful, I am not perfect. It is especially hard when the world around me tells me I should be afraid. But I have been reminded over and over that God is love and God is with me, all around me, and inside me. That is when the first part of that scripture becomes the most important: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.
A good friend and fellow CLM Peggy Stevens talked to our CLM class about reading scripture and changing the word “love” to the word God. If God is love, then God = love and the words should be interchangeable. Peggy used the example of 1 Corinthians 13. If we focus on Ch. 13: 4-7, we find that God is patient and kind. God is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. God does not force his own way. God is not irritable or resentful. God does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And the first part of verse 8 would say “God never fails.”
If we look at God = love like a math problem, then love also equals God. Substituting God for the word “love,” we find that 1 John 4:18 reads “There is not fear in God.” Let me say that again: There is no fear in God. God does not fear. What’s more is that God casts out fear. When I am fearful, I am not perfect in God. I am allowing something other than God to take root in my life. If God casts out fear, then all I have to do is turn to God and ask for help. Simply put, when God comes in, fear has to leave.
Although I am still a perfectionist, I am not perfect. Thankfully, God = love and God in perfect love forgives my lack of perfection. In perfect love, God also reminds me that when everything around me tells me I should be afraid, I can turn to God and fear will leave. What an awesome God we serve!
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, stop and say out loud “I trust you God. I trust you Jesus. I trust you Holy Spirit.” Then pay attention to how you feel. The first time, it will probably feel a little strange, but as you put that into practice, you will feel the words taking root. They will begin to have more meaning each time you say them. Any time you feel anxious, stressed out, overwhelmed, or afraid, repeat those words: “I trust you God. I trust you Jesus. I trust you Holy Spirit.” It won’t take long before you feel your trust in God grow and begin to see the work and movement of the Holy Spirit all around you. – Borrowed from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and adapted based on personal experience.
-- Cari Neill, Certified Lay Minister