Five of us women piled laughing into her great big sports utility vehicle. We had been in training together for four weeks, the latest of which brought us to the hustle and chaos of the city. We had taken turns driving each day to a different lunch destination, and as we pulled into the narrow space, I jokingly admitted that I would be afraid to drive such a massive car.
And then it happened.
The one in the front seat turned to me and said “you’ve got to stop saying you’re afraid.”
Ouch. Barely a month after meeting me, she speaks these words. And I wonder how many times a week — a day, even — I say that I am afraid. I know that I am an anxious person, but do I really let that anxiety overflow from my heart and through my lips often enough for her to pick up on it so quickly? I sit quiet though lunch, embarrassed and pondering.
I’m afraid of driving in Atlanta. I’m afraid of getting lost when I’m by myself. I’m afraid of not having enough money when the bills appear in the mailbox. I’m afraid of someone I love being sick or hurt. I’m afraid of big crowds. I’m afraid of the angry father whose son we put in foster care last month. I’m afraid of circumstances that are entirely beyond my realm of control. The list could go on for ages.
But the Holy Spirit speaks loud and clear: how many times a day do you say that you are loved?
The question brings me to my knees on the inside. How often do I remember that I am known and pursued by the Author of perfect love?
Do I remember that I’m loved in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic on Interstate 285, or when I take a wrong turn despite having my GPS on, or when the college loan payment is due, or when it comes time to schedule another meeting with the angry dad? No.
Claiming my fear has become like a mantra. Anxiety, the banner waving over me. My knee jerk reaction to situations of stress and angst has not been a positive response to the truth of the Gospel. Maybe you’re in the same boat? It is high time we choose a new refrain — something that is true, and faithful to the test of time, because He is true and faithful. Scripture assures that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Love never fails, because that’s who He is.
It is said that the words “do not be afraid” occur three hundred and sixty-five times throughout Scripture. They’re often followed by the promise that He is with us. He is our shield, our refuge, our help, our healer, our provider, our portion. He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ. He is just, He is patient, He is merciful, and He is Truth — the stability that this unsteady heart so desperately needs.
These are things my weary heart needs to hear. And it just goes to show how powerful our words are. If life and death are in the power of the tongue, I’ve been attempting suicide.
But the Surgeon is faithful to tenderly stitch my sliced soul back together again, and how He grieves the self-inflicted wounds — so painfully aware of the anguish His Son endured to heal me.
The Father delights in His children. If we tried to count the ways He is wooing us, we would never reach the end.
So I say I am loved, aloud to myself as I schedule meetings and visits between weeks of training that will inevitably exhaust and as I peer over the dash when my GPS announces it is rerouting me after that left instead of right.
And I feel alive.