The theme in all I am reading and hearing this week is: love conquers fear. Let me begin with some Scriptures.
1 John 3:13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
The Outworking of Love
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
A Dance In Donegal by Jennifer Deibel is one book I read this week. It is the first novel I have read by this author, and my second book from our library since Covid restrictions have eased. Born and bred in Boston, Miss Moira Doherty has heard her mother’s recollections of Ireland since childhood. When her mother dies in the summer of 1920, her dying wish is for Moira to become the teacher in Ballymann, the village in Donegal, Ireland, where her mother was born.
After struggling with fears and uncertainties, Moira finally takes the arduous journey to Ballymann, where she finds a handful of residents give her a warm welcome, but many are not friendly to an American. She has a lot to learn about the culture and language and rumors about her mother’s past being whispered behind her back, but she knows nothing about the “family secret” she’s being accused of. She relies on a few friends, including Sean McFadden, the handsome thatcher. He keeps popping up unannounced, rescuing her.
She finds the young student who has been threatening her and disrupting class ill to the point of death in his hovel. Can she love her enemy enough to nurse him to health… or will she let him die? The above scriptures play into her thought process as she struggles with God and with the people around her who don’t understand. Will the town ever accept her? What will Sean do with Moira’s growing convictions? It’s a story of faith over fear, and of reconciliation.
This is the first of Jennifer Deibel’s books I have read. It took me a couple chapters to get used to her writing style, but this is a solid story with wonderful characters that will help you contemplate love and fear, hate and suspicions, as well as forgiveness. I encourage you to pick this book up and spend a bit of time in the Donegal countryside, maybe finding a new view of who God is in Christ. The author has lived in Ireland and Austria, and currently lives in Arizona with her husband and three children, teaching in a middle school. You can check her out at: http://www.jenniferdeibel.com.
Let’s get back to the first letter of John and see how love conquers fear.
The Consummation of Love
1 John 4:17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
This morning, I am on Day 15 in Todd Nettleton’s book: When Faith Is Forbidden. Today’s title is: A Testimony In The Ground. Bilal has died. He was an Indian Christian whose family wants him to have a Christian burial. Radical Hindus want to take the body and do their traditional rituals, cremating the body to show Bilal recanted his Christianity and returned to his Hindu faith before he died. The family wants the body buried with a stone, testifying that he died a Christian. The radicals came to the house, the Pastor and a couple of other Christian men went outside, and the Hindus started beating them. They continued the beating even when the men tried to mount their bikes to escape. When they finally got away, Bimala, an aged widow, opened her door and gave them refuge. She was asked why she took them in… wasn’t she afraid of the radicals? Bimala’s reply: “I am the Lord’s servant, so I have to be strong. I will not fear, because He is with us. I thought that some of those people might make problems for me, but I have to be strong.” (page 111)
Bob Jones said when he was transported to heaven years before he died, the Lord asked him one question: “Have you learned to love?” (you can find his testimony on YouTube)
What do you want your legacy to be? I want people to remember that I loved well; not that I was legalistic, judgemental, or fearful. I know it’s an ongoing revelation from God and dying to flesh for me. Would you be like Bimala and Moira, coming to the place of not fearing anyone but God? It’s a struggle to come to the point of letting the love of God, in Christ Jesus, fill you to overflowing. We need to evict fear from our soul and replace it with the genuine fear of God; which is love. I encourage you to fight the good fight and live in the Spirit so you won’t fulfill the lusts of your flesh. Here’s one last admonishment from Jesus:
Jesus Teaches the Fear of God
Luke 12:4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!