and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
says the LORD, who has compassion on you." ~ Isaiah 54:10
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." ~ 1 John 4:18
These two verses were from Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" devotional that I've continued to keep up with summer (didn't do a good job of it over the year). When I was going through the study, I knew it was going to be a convicting study. And it was.
I think what I learned about myself this year was how much I feared failure. In everything I do - school, relationships with people, my relationship with Jerry, even my spiritual life. I often have the mentality that if I slip up on my quiet times, then I'm not "faithful" enough. If I don't do enough for the fellowship, then I'm obviously not very "spiritual" or not "serving" enough. Thoughts like that often creep into my mind. I know those thoughts are not of God, but perhaps it was the way I was raised or the way I had conditioned myself to think - it became a habit. This summer, I've been surprised at how often the subject of "love" comes up in my quiet times. Not the love of a human being, but the love of God. I like how Beth put it in her study today - "You cannot love another human being with agape love (God's perfect love) unless you learn to accept it yourself."
Have I accepted God's love fully? Why am I still scared of Him when I "slip up"?
I know there's a difference between repentance and fear. And I think I fall into the second category, where I fear God and His disappointment so much that I turn away even more, leaving a bigger gap and causing me to walk further and further away. God has revealed this to me this summer, and while I can't say I've learned to fully accept God and how He sees me - as a perfect daughter - I am learning. It's been hard to unlearn the lessons and the lies I have rooted in my heart, but it's been so refreshing and so wonderful at the same time.
God has shown me that He doesn't care if I do my quiet times every day for exactly a certain amount of time - what matters is how often I surrender and allow myself to be placed into His grand plan for me. I have to stop trying to fit God into my own predetermined plans and dreams. I just have to walk each day, faithfully, and each day counts towards living an obedient life. He doesn't care how much I serve or how well - as long as I have a willing heart. The outcome is up to Him - not up to me. Even if it seems like a "failure" on the outside, I cannot see the big picture - but God can. God loves me with a kind of love that no family member or lover could love me with - and that's agape love. But unless I learn to accept His love into my heart first, I cannot love others the way I want to. I can't hold up a wall in my heart against God any longer - He has spoken so clearly to me that He loves me and He wants a better and closer relationship with me. And in His agape love comes freedom - something I desperately need.
I know this post seems kind of rambly, but I hope it has spoken to you as well. God has been refining me - a diamond in the rough, if you will - and it hasn't been easy. But it has been so worth it. Because He sees the big picture, while so often I can't!
And Beth used one of my favorite verses. So fitting. :) I leave you with this:
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:8-11