Knowing God Through Love

Open Your Bible

1 John 4:1-19, Psalm 36:1-12, John 15:18-21, 1 Peter 2:1-3

It happened every night, first at 1:27 a.m. and then again at 4:02 a.m.. A low warning whistle would signal its arrival, followed by a roaring screech that thundered through our sleeping city, only waking me. Its rumble traveled from a cracked window to the front door to my bedpost, then disappeared as quickly as it came.

That train on nearby tracks opened my eyes to the darkness. I’d seen the sky turn black before going to bed, of course, but I hadn’t felt it. Suddenly, I was hyper aware that at any moment, my safe foundation could be shaken and destroyed. There, in my bed with white sheets and a black headboard, I began a countdown to sunrise, staying awake to prevent the darkness from swallowing me.

Each morning, I’d attribute my sleepy eyes to the train, but each night, I’d remember it was fear.

I began recognizing minor details as “warning” signs—ambulance sirens, missed calls, late arrivals—and became sure something dubious was headed my way. I didn’t know what that something was, but I knew its tracks were headed in my direction.

Fear is ominous and undefined in both feeling and concept. There are times I know exactly what I’m afraid of, and others when I’m just plain afraid. Many nights, I’d sit up on those white bed sheets, Bible open on my lap, wrestling with anxiety. Over and over again, I ran into the same command: Do not fear. It appears generously throughout God’s Word, yet I’d never come across a concrete definition of “fear” by itself. But what reason do we have to not fear? When the walls begin to shake and the darkness closes in, how exactly do we just “not fear”?

When the train began to rumble into town, I wasn’t sure how to put the brakes on my fear—but I knew I could turn on the lights. Reaching over to turn on the lamp on my bedside table somehow illuminated my confidence enough to step out of bed and look outside. From my window, the street lights glowed and the train’s headlights shone in the darkness. I wonder if this is why fear isn’t clearly defined in the Bible, because it cannot stand alone. To really know it, we must turn on the lights.

And in this case, when it comes to our fears, it is by His light, by knowing Him, that we are really able to see and make sense of what’s around us (Psalm 36:9). To know Him, we must remember His love; He Himself is love (1John 4:16). And when we know His love, we know what it is not: fear. Because “there is no fear in love… perfect love drives out fear” (v.18, emphasis mine).

I’ve always read that verse in the context of my loving relationships, but what if we could also believe it in the context of our worst fears? If God is love, and there is no fear in love, then there is no fear in God. And because we are from God, He leaves the lights on for us. Held to the standard of God’s perfect love, fears don’t stand a chance. Maybe trying not to fear isn’t so impossible if it sends us searching for the light (John 8:12). May we always hold up pieces of darkness to the brilliance of His love.

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78 thoughts on "Knowing God Through Love"

  1. Blake Ennis says:

    As I read this in the midst of CoVid19….yes yes and yes. God trumps all and comes in to give assurance and hope and peace…thanking God

  2. Jeanette Yocum says:

    I loved this so much. I can relate

  3. SD says:

    Today my husband and very best friend deployed. With the world being in a pandemic, this deployment is full of even more unknowns, less structured timetables, and more worries. I came to this reading today with a heavy, fearful heart. I am so thankful that even as we approach these unknowns that God has left the light on for us. I do not have to sink into fear as God’s perfect love drives out fear. So, so thankful for this reminder and God’s sustaining love during this time.

  4. Avis DeniseGraves says:


  5. Tamara Hoffmann says:

    Fear of the Lord is similar to respect and fear for a parent. We obey our parents because we fear retribution, later we learn to love them because they taught us to be obedient. Finally, we do not want to disappoint them because we love and respect them. It is the same with our relationship with our Lord and Savior. I do fear the Lord because He is Holy and I am nothing, all our best offerings are as filthy rags. But God sent Jesus, He stands in front of me and pleads for my forgiveness because I claim his righteousness. By his stripes we are healed, He casts out fear.

  6. Ruth Narcisse says:

    Hi Linda!
    I take the “fear” of the Lord as the respect you have for him not necessarily being scared of him.

  7. Jennifer Anapol says:

    God is love and by showing love to those around us, we are showing Christ to the world!! I think a very tangible way of showing God’s love to those around us is by meeting their needs. I pray the Lord would show me the needs of the people around me and give me wisdom in how to meet those needs.

  8. Linda says:

    My walk with the Lord is one that has taken me down several paths, sometimes the wrong one because of my humanly flesh. But I always come back, and start my re’s again . . .renew, rethink, rejoice, rebirth, etc. As I age I can feel this calling to come closer to my heavenly Father and honestly I love it. I have to remember with His love I can endure anything . . .it’s becoming solid in my heart, my mind, and my soul.

    However . . . .Here’s where I would love some help . . .my father was one to fear Big Time . . .so when I read parts of the bible and the scriptures say to FEAR the Lord . . . I immediately go back to the fear of my earthly father. Can someone help me understand what the fear of the Lord truly means . . . Thank you soooo much!!