“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1John 3:1a
When our son started another 20+ hour road trip to Florida last Friday I was worried. Will he be okay driving by himself? Will he get enough to eat? What will the weather be like? As questions like these swam through my mind I came to this conclusion: Most future details we cannot “know” for certain. Unfortunately, it is usually these little unknowables that cause me to feel vulnerable and ignite worry in my heart. I confess my preoccupation with the surety of future details regarding our grown children. Even though they are both doing well it is difficult not to worry about them because I desperately want to keep them from experiencing pain whether it be physical, spiritual or emotional.
Because of this I’m convinced God providentially arranged for me to study the book of First John. It happens to contain 37 accounts of the word Know and 41 of the word Love. Apparently, it was important to John to convey that we can know and love for certain in Christ. He wanted believers to know God, love God and love each other. In other words, to Know Love or to experience God’s benevolent love in an intimate way at all times. This profound revelation means that trusting God in all things, abiding in His love, keeps me from being deceived and distracted. (Yes, worry is the result of deception.) Just like a branch is grafted into a vine I am intimately bound to Him or in Christ. Therefore, I can have the mind of Christ; trusting God in all circumstances. My thinking no longer has to stem from my fears but is now filtered through God’s love for me AND for my children.
Oh, how I wish God would promise that my children would always walk in the Light and know His love! However, the real crux of my anxiety isn’t that our children won’t walk with the Lord but that they will somehow have to suffer because of a bad decision or because of circumstances outside their (or my) control. In essence, I hate my inability to protect them from inevitable pain. This is why the last sentence in First John sends chills down my spine. “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21. How easily I turn from the light! Just like a dumb sheep that wanders away from the shepherd who loves him, I too trot into the darkness of faithlessness and idolatry, putting my offspring on the throne of my heart.
Truthfully, I want all circumstances to be in my control. Fear and anxiety compel me to cry, “I want my way!” But I KNOW perfect love drives out fear. So what does that mean? Am I not loved perfectly? NO! God is love. He cannot be imperfect. God always loves perfectly. So why the fear? Because I was not allowing His perfect love to control me (2 Corinthians 5:14). I refused to walk in the light, abide in Him, nestle under His wing or stay near the Shepherd. Then, just like the lonely sheep, I was devoured by the wolf of insecurity and fear. So, if perfect love drives out fear then willful rebellion invites it over for dinner.
Fortunately, as His rod touched my back I turned around and trotted toward the Good Shepherd. I asked God to forgive me for not trusting Him. With loving arms He nestled me close to His heart, assuring me of His everlasting affection. With bended knee and a submissive will we are just the right size to be scooped up and held intimately close and know love.