Fear is debilitating and crippling. When I see someone with that “deer in the headlights” look on their face, I often remind myself that being paralyzed by fear seldom works out well for the deer. So let’s talk about how to deal with fear.
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How can one find courage in a world that appears out of control? The answer is a simple one. How do you find anything you are ever looking for?? The only way is by looking in the right place! It does not matter how hard or how often you look in the wrong place, because the outcome never depends upon your effort or your determination. Let me explain with an illustration.
If I’ve left my mobile phone at a store, I can only find it by looking at that store. I can search my home and office very, very carefully. I can open every drawer, look under every piece of furniture. I’ll never find it, because it is not there. Even if I get the help of people with perfect eyesight, it makes no difference. You can only find something by looking in the right place. The place to find the love that will cast out your fear is at the foot of the cross.
Today our lesson comes from the apostle that Jesus loved. It’s not that Jesus didn’t love the others, to be sure. But John’s love for Jesus impacted his faith in ways unseen even in the lives of the other apostles. It gave him freedom from fear. Love does that. It both motivates and protects. And it instills trust.
John’s love enabled him to go with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. John’s love enabled him to go with Jesus to the very hill of Calvary and stand at the foot of the cross. Though he was standing in the midst of several armed soldiers, he had no fear. John’s love allowed him to go to Samaria with Peter to preach the Gospel. And to Ephesus. And into exile in Patmos after the cauldron of boiling oil had no effect upon him.
Today’s verse tell us PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR.
Any step of faith can be considered a foolish risk at some point. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something greater than fear is more significant, and worthy of the potential sacrifice. Love won’t protect you from every problem or attack. Love removes the fear and allows you to face them in peace, knowing that the outcome is in the hands of One who loves you more. The brave do not live forever, but cowards do not live at all.
The website for the NO FEAR brand features images of people in all sorts of extreme sports situations. My favorite is an upside-down biker; pictured in the middle of a 360 jump he appears to be doing the impossible and riding his bike on the ceiling. The phrase that is repeated in all of the incredibly challenging situations is “THIS IS MY COMFORT ZONE,” though the situations appear anything BUT comfortable.
The underlying message from NO FEAR is clear. When you have no fear, the uncomfortable can become comfortable. When you have no fear, you can learn to do things most other people would never attempt. Having no fear broadens your “comfort zone” to the edges of reality and beyond.
As believers, His perfect love casts out our fear. And then it invites us to enter the battle. The same love that casts out our fear opens a world of “opportunity” to serve the One we love. His love determines where we are called. And it redefines our “comfort zone” by replacing fear with love.
Where will His love take you? Where will you find fulfillment? The biker’s skill and determination allowed him to be upside down for a brief moment. But your gifts and calling will enable you to turn your world upside down.
Welcome to your new comfort zone.