When I think about people’s biggest fears, I can easily bee-line to the typical “Top 10” list that will notoriously include frights like spiders, suffocation, tall heights and of course, the one that often tops them all…public speaking. These are some of the most common responses, and they’re understandable horrors for many. I, myself, on more than one occasion have called to my husband from another room in the house to slay a dragon in my defense. Okay, in all likeliness, he squished a spider, but…sometimes they do seem terrifyingly large and dangerous! Thankfully, my husband is braver than me and willing to come to my rescue. (Whew!)
Interestingly, if we each dig deep inside ourselves, there’s one fear that potentially trumps all others, even though it’s not often seen on a list. This fear is likely bigger, deeper an wider than everything else on the list combined, because it touches us at the soul-level. This fear attaches to one of our greatest needs, and it was a need put there by God.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”Tim Keller
Our Creator, in His lovingkindness, planted a deep-seated need within us to be known and loved. He did this to create a yearning and desire to draw closer in relationship to Him; the source of life, goodness, comfort and strength, as well as to others for community and encouragement. Sadly, when sin entered the world, so did shame, self consciousness, envy and loneliness. So, people can be helpers to one another, but ultimately, they will always fall short, due to the limitations of humanity. God, on the other hand, will never fail. And He can meet our fear head-on and crush it, if we allow Him.
God is the Only One
God can fully quench our thirst to be known and loved, and in doing so, He releases our fear that we might never achieve this level of intimacy and relationship; the true aching of our heart. Not only does He tell us that we are fully known (John 10:14, 1 Corinthians 8:3, Jeremiah 1:5, John 10:27) and truly loved (1 John 3:1, 1 John 4:16, Galatians 2:20, Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16), He makes it clear that we are accepted, affirmed and adored.
Now, if we’re going to talk about fears, don’t even try to convince me that you never feared being picked last (or not at all) when it came to choosing teammates in sports, partners at a dance or table-mates in the lunchroom. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t recall the sweaty and agonizing moments before someone called their name asking them to join. Those minutes (that truly feel like hours) of uncertainty are agonizing until someone includes us. We all want to be accepted.
We need not fear, though, because God is looking for a relationship with us. He’s not looking to condemn or shame us; those are lies if that’s what you’ve heard. Rather, He wants nothing more than to invite us into intimacy with him. He wants us, and He wants it to last forever.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
Everyone enjoys being affirmed. In today’s world, social media offers creative lures for people hoping to receive positive feedback. It breaks my heart daily to watch people (especially teens) on Instagram, not simply posting a photo with a caption and leaving it there, but then creating a story with a banner heading urging followers to seek out their photos and like them. These animated requests often continue so numbers can climb and affirmations can be stockpiled. It’s a fearful cry from the heart to be affirmed, and it’s sadly a never-ending search for a never-enough supply. The only boundless source is God, and only in Him are we enough.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
I recently was given the privilege of watching a friend’s three-month-old baby. I had prayed for this precious girl before she was born. I had prayed for her mother and father, for their family, for all the preparations and details leading up to her birth and then for her safe delivery on the day she was born. And there I sat last week, holding this marvelous miracle in my arms. I adored her instantly, and I cherished every second with her. I would have done anything to protect her, care well for her and give her my best for her benefit. She had nothing to fear with her mother leaving for just a few short hours. She had me well-wrapped around her tiny little finger the minute I held her. (My own baby is thirteen now, so it was such a treat to love on a new baby and reminisce about this special season filled with firsts.)
God, our Father adores us as His own children. As much as we want for our children (and the children of those we love), God has no limits or boundaries on the love He has for us. We need not fear. It’s more than we can fathom or imagine, and it’s not conditional on our performance, perfection or impeccable prayers. Just like the baby I held recently, we just need to be still and know that we are safe in His arms.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Our worst fear in life may be that we are truly known and not fully loved, but in God’s eyes, it’s not possible. He knew us before we were born; He knows us by name; and He created us with intention, and He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows our thoughts, and He sees and hears everything. He knows us completely (even the ugliest and most secretive parts). And yet, He loves us entirely, wholly, without limits or requirements or shame. Simply, His loves envelops us. We only need to believe and surrender our fear.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. (1 John 4:18)
Father, God, thank you for Your perfect love. Help me to receive it fully and completely. Remind me, Lord that You know everything there is to know about me. And you still love me this much: fully and completely. It’s worth repeating. I need not fear. Praise Your Holy Name! Amen.