In Matthew 14, Jesus tells Peter to come to him. Peter gets out of the boat, starts walking, gets distracted by the wind, fear grips him, and he begins to sink. I wonder if the disciple John, who was later to reflect in a letter, “but perfect love drives out all fear,” ever held Peter in mind as he reflected on that night-time encounter between love incarnate and human fear.
When my eyes are not fixed upon Jesus, I begin to sink. I sink into the fear of my shame that would swallow me up into the shadows that exist in deep places. Yet when I yield to love, when I fix my gaze once more upon Jesus, then the water becomes as solid as love incarnate. Jesus is the fullness of the Father’s love, and in him I am fully loved.
The driving out of fear by perfect love is the journey of a lifetime, and some days fear has the upper hand. And here is the great wrestling match for all those of us who live with trauma, with long-term mental health conditions: the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And that divine love is passionate about us and is transforming us from the inside out, whether we realize it or want it, because the activity of God in creation is not dependent on our permission.
I love because he first loved me. I love because the eternal love of heaven has been poured out into all creation. I don’t have to love with my love, but with that love that the Father through the Son has already poured out by the Spirit within me, because in Christ Jesus I am a new creation.
I am thankful that our heavenly Father has shown us such grace in the Son; that the reality of our lives is that we will be one day filled up with love, the day we behold our Savior face to face. Until that time we are filled daily with the Father’s love through the activity of the Spirit, because each day we drop our heads a little, each day we can feel empty, and each day we need to be reminded afresh that the hope of God is love incarnate: Jesus Christ. And ultimately, the love of Jesus is all sufficient. Hallelujah!