Monday, April 11, 2016

God's Perfect Love

Last fall, Joe and I listened to a book on tape about the Johnstown Flood by David McCullough. There was a scene in the book that described a crewmen on a train who was in charge of a  particular train car full of passengers . Somehow that train was caught on the tracks at the time of the flood . The train tracks were in a low place with hills surrounding it.  When that crewman saw the wall of water coming toward  the train, he ran as fast as he could and made it to high ground .  The passengers of that train car were frozen in fear.  Many lost their lives.  A reporter asked that man, "How is it that you made it to high ground and the others in your train car did not?"  He answered something like, " Well, I saw the water coming and I ran as fast as I could. I had to save my life, didn't I?"

That's scene troubled me, but not because of what that man did . No, I wondered how I would have responded had I been faced with such a life-threatening event . I can't say that I'm very courageous , and I know for certain that I am very selfish at times.  What is to keep me from having the same reaction as the man in Johnstown?  Paul says in Philippians 1:20, " I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body whether by life or by death ".  Paul faced death many times and had an eager expectation and hope that he would not be ashamed, but that God would give him the courage that he needed either to live or die . 

Over a month ago our dear brother Art Belcher faced a similar situation . Not allowing others to be endangered , he heroically protected them to his own hurt . He was stabbed several times and nearly died . Thanks be to the grace and favor of God, Art  is recovering and growing stronger every day . 

I thought it interesting on the first day Art came back to church – the testimony was that when he first took the security officer job , he confided in his friend that he wasn't sure if he really had the courage to do the job required .  The Lord proved to Art that he did have the courage – but that courage did not come from himself, it came from the spirit that fills him . 

This world can be a dangerous place and we can be tempted to walk in fear . John the beloved in I John 4:18 says this , " perfect love expels all fear . If we're afraid, it's for fear of punishment and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love ".  I think Paul must have experienced that perfect love that he could be so confident to eagerly expect and hope that he might be filled with courage . 

And, come to think of it , I can't say I know too many others who are more filled with the love of Christ than Art Belcher.  Perhaps his courage came from a deep experience of God's perfect love . 

I think that in the future I will not pray so much for courage, but for the experience of God's perfect love.  May the Lord grant us all the experience of his perfect love so that we may "eagerly expect and hope that we will have sufficient courage" … So that Christ may be glorified in our lives

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