When our youngest child, Jireh, was born and we received a diagnosis of Down syndrome our involuntary and instant response was shock and fear.
The 15 minutes that followed were one of the darkest moments of my life. It was like standing in a cold dark room but with no sense that there was any floor beneath me. Free-falling in complete darkness. Lost and alone.
It felt as though time stood still. I only knew 15 minutes had passed because the clock told me so.
The darkness was only permeated by the stirring of the baby that was in my arms. The baby that had received the diagnosis. The diagnosis that had triggered the overwhelming fear.
I looked at the child in my arms and I was reminded of 1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
As I looked into the face of our baby I can only describe the love that I felt in that moment as fierce. It was all consuming. It was as though there was nothing, no-one, no power or force that could pierce or tear down the wave of love that seemed to envelope him. The thought of anyone hurting or limiting him drew out the strongest feelings from the depths of my soul. The thought that he could live anything less than a full and blessed life seemed almost absurd.
In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We read that and think to ourselves wow that really is a great love. Choosing someone else’s wellbeing over our own, potentially even dying in the place of someone else, is a love of massive proportions.
What we don’t often understand is that it’s only because of love that we can do that. Love is the fuel for our boldness. Love is the fuel that causes us to put our own needs and fears aside and value people as much as, or even more, than ourselves.
The answer to fear is not courage. The answer to fear is love. Love fuels our courage. Love overcomes fear.
Which gives me pause to consider the number of times I’ve prayed for boldness and courage in the face of fear. What I should really be praying for is love… Jesus fill me with your love. Holy Spirit pour out your love into my life.
When I consider the fear that consumes our world, our politics, our social commentary this makes sense. It’s not a lack of courage or boldness that drives our fear of asylum seekers and people fleeing oppressive regimes by boat. It’s not even a lack of knowledge or absence of rational thought. Rather, it’s an absence of love.
There was a great video produced for a justice conference held earlier this year, and in it the following statement is made – “You never stop fighting for your own”. Love causes us to see people as Jesus sees them. Love causes us to see people as our own. Love causes us to fight for people as our own.
The next time you are afraid. The next time fear is driving your thinking and your response. Don’t pray for boldness and courage. Pray instead for love. Pray for the love that drives out fear. Pray that you would receive the great, perfect love that causes us to do extraordinary things in the face of the injustice around us.
Go on. Pray that prayer.
What are you afraid of?
image credit: AP Photo/Anurup Titu