Perfect Love Casts out Fear

Fear is a very real thing. From a young age, I knew fear in the form of a phobia. I feared death. Not just my death, but specifically around darkness, emptiness, the end of life. I worried something would happen to my mother and I hated sleeping somewhere other than home. As I got older and my thought processes could take me down deep into the darkness of what if scenarios, I could end up in a panic attack. There were times that the most unusual situations lead to the worst ones. The kind where everything goes wonky, sight becomes a tunnel and then blackness overtakes you. 
In the Bible, there are many verses written about fear because it's a problem as old as time. This week as I was preparing for what's coming in Sunday's service, this verse stood out to me, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." (1 John 4:18, ESV). The part that specifically spoke to me was, "perfect love casts out fear". I know this to be true for me. God is perfect love and in His perfect love, He has the power to overcome our fears. I remember coming to a point in my panic attacks where my mom and older sister would ridicule me over how I got when it happened. That broke my spirit even further. Where could I run to when I was overcome with fear? Who would hold me and comfort me? If I couldn't count on the people in my life, then what? "Then what?" lead me to the arms of my Father.
As a Catholic in my youth, I was armed with prayers I had memorized. In the midst of my panic in the future, I used prayer as my shield and salvation. It began with the "Our Father" and I would say it over and over again if needed. It would calm me. It brought me peace. It delivered me to sleep and rest. It released me. When I couldn't muster the "Our Father", I had learned the power in the name of Jesus and would just call out His name rather than for my mother. And there IS power in His name. Power to quiet us. Power to comfort us. Power to overcome what is trying to overcome us. Most recently, I have used the 23rd Psalm as a reminder of where God is and how He will be with me wherever I am, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters." (v 1-2) or "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff they comfort me." (v 4) and comfort me these reminders in His Word do. The power in the Sword of His Word gives me the ability to fend off the attack. To overcome the grip of fear, anxiety, and panic that want to take me down.
These verses are not just words to be said like a mantra, they are more like a truth spell. They are elixirs to my weary soul which needs mending. It is a balm unto my soul which is torn by walking in this world. It is the salve of healing that can be applied each day and as needed. I never understood why it mattered to have verses memorized, but when I am under attack mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, His words remind me how to fight. They are my sword and my shield (Eph 6:10-18, Full Armor of God) and He is the Rock of my Salvation. My Fortress and my Tent of Refuge. I am thankful for a Daddy who knew my needs and yours even before He created me in His image and breathed His spirit into me. His love, perfect love, casts away my fears.

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