Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear
When we met Jesus, it was probably not a face to face physical experience. Long before we met Him, He was at work in our individual lives, drawing us out of darkness into the Kingdom of His glorious light. We were chosen by Him and wooed by Him, unaware of what was going on inside of us. He sent people into our lives who talked to us about how wonderful and precious He is. Our lifelong yearning for that kind of friend was quickened as we thought, maybe, this is what I have been searching for. Maybe this is the one that can truly give me lasting peace! We started moving toward Him, learning about Him and desiring to know more. Then there was that experience of knowing that He was Christ, the Son of God and knowing that we wanted everything He was offering to us! With a longing for peace that we make the choice - a decision of the heart - to embrace Him and call Him Lord. It is a decision that is made by faith because this is a choice to love, to believe, even though we could not see Him.
We did not just wake up one day and have this life transpiring event happen to us. We unknowingly were like a bride, hidden away in a quiet chamber, being prepared by the Spirit of God, stripping away our uncleanness of heart (our desires to do wrong things growing weaker and weaker and our desire to be a better person and live a more fulfilling life becoming stronger and stronger). We were being prepared to answer "yes" when He called.
When we give our hearts to Jesus, it is a decision from our will, our emotional realm; yet a physical realm is touched as well. We can physically feel the weight removed from our shoulders. Breathing is easier. Our steps are lighter, our eyes have light in them. We physically feel different.
In a dream recently, I was being prepared for my wedding. I was a participant but didn't actually realize what was taking place. There was lots of fuss being made over me by a lot of people, preparing the dress, choosing the shoes, etc., everyone talking constantly about my wonderful husband. I was caught up in the excitement of love and wedding. It wasn't until the wedding day arrived that I realized there was something terribly wrong. I'd never even met the man that I was to marry and had not so much as seen a photograph of him. But it went beyond a fear of what he would look like. There had been no communication from him to me, even though it had been an option for us. I knew then that I could never marry him at that time - it wasn't saying 'no, never'. It was saying, I want to experience the fun of getting to know you, of learning about you, of uncovering the mystery of who you are and then I will make my choice to marry you if I confirm what all these people have told me about you. It was a need to establish trust.
When the appointed time for us to meet arrived, I was fixed in all my finery - not my wedding dress, but still prepared to look my best. He arrived late and obviously was hastily dressed. He was the sweetest man, but the kind of man that needed a mom more than a wife. He gave me an unwrapped gift, a plastic container that was taped shut. In it was a scribbled note with some beads, saying that he would make me a decoration for my hat, to match his. I wondered what had prevented him from having this gift finished already and felt that although his intentions were good, there would probably never be a time when this project was finished. Part of me wanted to proceed with the wedding, with a feeling that the power of my love could bring changes to him. I knew that I could make the choice to love this man, and that I could help him and improve him, for his and my good. But I also had the wisdom to know that he would resist these changes and so to choose to spend the rest of my life with him was a choice to accept him totally as he was right now.
I also knew that this was a man who would not let me down, as far as loving me always, being loyal to me and one who would cherish me. His character was impeccable. The desire for those greater qualities was not easy to resist. I felt that struggle once again, over that opinion I'd had for ever so long, that it was impossible to have a man possess attributes of outward and inward beauty. The handsome and charming men were always shallow and self-absorbed. The physically average man was usually nice as could be, but lacking the confidence, the social skills and the exuberance for life that I found so attractive. I knew that I wanted to get to know this man but I also knew that I would need a change of heart to ever find him acceptable as my husband.
As I woke and pondered the meaning of this, I found myself comparing it to our relationship with Jesus. I realized that even though I had used faith when I asked Him to be my Lord, it was a decision made based on believing in Him but not necessary trusting in Him. These were two acts of my choice that I've always thought were equivalent. But then I realized that, on the day that I said "yes" to Jesus in accepting Him as my Savior, I had no concept of what I would be required to do out of love for Him. To lay my life down, to allow the mortification of my flesh and the death of my dreams and plans would have made the decision too difficult, since I had not yet learned to trust in Him. He only asked for my choice - my will - at that time. But as our relationship progressed He began to draw me away from myself. Even though I sincerely wanted to change and to please Him, getting to that place would be extremely difficult and a lifelong endeavor. He could not have asked me to make that choice at the same moment of my salvation, because my trust in Him needed to be planted, allowed to take root, sprout and grow.
Even though I believed in Him as the Son of God. I had no comprehension of His all encompassing love and care. This came over time and through experience. I think that the Lord was showing me how the progression of a relationship between a man and a woman is the same process. Even though our earthly relationships are nearly always based on a physical seeing one another and being in each others company, watching one another and touching one another, it all has to do with that same wooing process. If we like what we are experiencing, then we usually make the choice to pursue the relationship deeper - saying 'I believe in who you are presenting yourself to be and to be who I am seeing you to be.' We make our choices for a spouse by believing that we are seeing the truth and reality of that person. But the ability to trust that person, that takes years and years of experience and gradual growing. If that person asked us to give up who we were, to give up our other friends, to give up the pursuit of our goals and dreams, most of us would say "no - I don't have that kind of trust in you to believe that this would be for my ultimate good".
I don't believe the Lord has ever asked anything of any one at the time we make the choice to believe that He is the Son of God (expressing our belief in Him) to do anything beyond that. We are the recipients of His great grace, mercy and love. He requires nothing more from us than our faith in who He is. Again, it is only as we experience that ultimate, all encompassing love, that we again use our free will and would chose to cast off the filthiness of our past as we see how burdensome and unnecessary it is in the beauty of His presence.
Can we then equate this to human relationships and love? If we are basing our choices on our past experiences with people, probably not. We want to have this unconditional love and trust, but all our thoughts and abilities to trust are based on our past relationships. There's always doubt. This is why it is so important to know the will of the Heavenly Father, Who knows all things from beginning to end. If we have no human recourse to assure us, and yet we yearn to trust our mate and even recognize how important it is to trust him or her, there is only one place where we can get the assurance that we need. That is to go to the One that we do trust. To trust God's voice as He leads and directs us in our daily lives, as He lines us up for the future as well. Does this mean that when we get the 'go-ahead' from the Lord to pursue a relationship, that we have the guarantee of everlasting bliss and safety? Unfortunately not. Because most of us are somewhat flaky and few of us go the distance in true dying to self. Obviously, there are many, many people that have experienced the ultimate love relationship with Jesus, yet have turned away from Him. Could we expect that our human love, even love based on God's agape love, could keep another person near to us forever, if God Himself didn't have that kind of controlling power? Even 1/3 of His angels betrayed Him and left His perfect love. No, all relationships are based on hope more than on trust.
What really matters more than anything is that we have faith in God, that no matter what someone might do to us or against us, that He will see us through to victory and that He will take any ashes and make something beautiful. But it is a trust in Him to protect us and shield us, not a total trust in a person. When the Lord brings potential mates into our lives, He is wanting for us to experience learning who they are and He leaves the choice up to us, as to whether or not they are someone that we want to share our lives with. By putting the responsibility on us to choose our own mate, with His blessing, keeps us from ever turning on God and blaming Him when things might not turn out as perfect as we thought. He wants us to have confidence in His perfect care for us, that He gives the green light but leaves the final choice up to us. I believe too, that one day as we stand before Him, He is going to show us people in our lives that He placed before us, that were better suited for us than the choices we made. Most often our choices are made based on fear, impatience and simply refusing to get God's perfect plan.
Our relationships that are based on biblical principals are always destined for glory. Whenever there are two people who are committed, not so much to each other, but to living life according to the principals of agape love, rather than emotional love, there will be that heaven experience on earth. If each one continues to choose love at all times, no matter what, this relationship will weather each and every storm. If each person always look to God for instruction and is obedient to His leading, this relationship will soar into heights of enjoyment and depth of love rarely experienced by most couples. If God is allowed to be the final authority in each life, and if each is submitted to living life according to His plan and not our own, the rewards will be above and beyond what we could ever ask or even think! This is the key to a happy marriage. It's not who you are as an individual, but who you are in Christ. Knowing that the Lord is leading you into the relationship does not mean it is without trial. Keeping the Lord as our leader will see us through the difficulties quickly and easily.
Be that bride, hidden away in her private quarters, being washed, cleansed and purified in preparation for her coming together with the bridegroom. Let our spiritual position as the bride be foremost in our thoughts and actions. For as we allow ourselves to be cleansed, we will appear before Him without spot or wrinkle. Bathed and soothed in oil and ointments. A glorious bride. One who is prepared and ready.
The deeper we go into our love relationship with Jesus, results in purer relationships with other people. We will find ourselves being drawn to the people that have truly made Jesus their Lord, and have allowed Him to change them more and more into His image. This is why when we meet some people, who are so conformed to His image, there is an immediate love and bond that results in the ability to trust in their genuine being. People like this are magnets to the hurting and to the lost. The world senses something in these people that they are desperately searching for. Those who are in Christ see and recognize Jesus in these people and want to be around them, to learn from them and to share from their deepest heart the joys and pleasures of relationship with Jesus.
No matter where we are in life, married or unmarried, we must desire to be more and more like Jesus. This results in yielding to His Spirit that comes to our aid and assists us in dying to ourselves (crucifying the flesh). Only then can we function wholly in our marriages, and in the body of Christ. This is where we become usable and valuable in doing our part.
Recognize our human frailties and stop demanding that people change to meet our requirements. Take time to remember who you once were and how far the Lord has brought you. Show mercy and compassion. And never, never try to change anyone. No matter what your relationship is with them, you have never been commissioned by God to change any one! Be all that the Lord has asked you to be. Obey His Word in loving, submitting, honoring and forgiving, not expecting anything from anyone. Allow the Lord to work the changes in your friends and loved ones. Stay in the bridal chamber for greater works of purification and beauty to come forth. Live to please the Lord and not your own flesh. Always, always look to God for answers and direction and never move until you have received light on your path. This is a time of greater consecration and dedication then ever before. There are greater rewards to be received as we trust God at all times, in every situation, allowing Him to work everything out for our good!
As a bride longs with eager anticipation for her wedding day and to be joined together with the groom, so we each must long for and anticipate with eagerness the coming of Jesus, to join the church to Himself!