Guilt makes a lousy companion, like a thunderstorm always waiting at the edge of your mind. Any moment of sunshine and delight can be all too quickly quenched by a sudden downpour.
We had this phrase that slipped in during the Father Heart of God week at dts: "From love, not for love." The idea is that when we know we're loved, when we fully comprehend that we have nothing to work for because all that we need is already ours from Him, we walk in unimaginable freedom. God's love is like the Drano that clears away a lifetime of pipe-clogging gunk. A child runs in from outside covered in dirt, and Mother doesn't withhold her love until his face is clean. She loves him because of who he is and what he is.
It's a beautiful thought, but it's one that I forget all too readily.
Once upon a time, David Blanchard told me that one of my greatest weaknesses is a tendency to hide myself behind my accomplishments (for the record, I did ask for his opinion). He's right, and it arises from what is perhaps an all-too-common tendency to live by the approval of others. Don't be controversial, don't stand out too much, do as the Romans do. Because the fact is, it's tiring to have to defend a non-traditional perspective. Fasting for "religious reasons," going to church on Sunday, not drinking as part of a vow, even listening to the ever-dreaded Christian music... But oh, that spiral of silence has a steep slope.
The problem with living for the approval of others is that you can't please everybody. Eventually, you get to a point where you've successfully placated a new crowd, but you're ashamed to face your old friends. Oh, maybe you don't do anything too terrible - maybe you call yourself the good kid of the group. But you still find it hard to look in the eyes of the people who believe in you, who have known you at your best, because what if the light of hope is dimmed by disappointment?
Sometimes, I don't want to go home, because it's too tiring to remember what I'm supposed to say and how I'm supposed to act. Sometimes, I resent the circles that I move in now because I don't want to be weird or stereotyped, but I don't hold the most vocalized popular opinion.
"Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness ... There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear." (1 John 4:17a&18a)
Usually I treat this blog as my own personal dump site, because I don't want to be too preachy. Well, if it's preachy, I'm not sorry this time. I hope you know that you're loved. You are loved fiercely and passionately and forever. So am I. Like anyone, I have faced doubt. But doubt doesn't get the final word. At the end of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that three things remain: faith, hope, and love. Of these three, faith and hope will one day become obsolete, as the object of our faith is before us, and we need hope no longer because all hopes are satisfied. All that remains is love. It was there at the beginning, and it will be there at the end. You cannot disappoint a God who knows you front to back, death to birth, and everything in between, because He already knows the story and He re-wrote a better ending. That's the kind of love that casts out fear. That's the kind of love that makes us daring and bold. That is the kind of love that gets the final word.