This morning I find myself weary, slow of step, a bit fuzzy of mind. For some odd reason I found myself flipping through the pictures on my phone and deleting all of the shopping list photos and the “do you want me to buy this one or that one” photos. As I did, a wave of gratitude seemed to wash over me like I’ve not experienced in some time.
I am still an emotional person, but probably significantly less than at some prior stages of life. But the last few days have filled me with an overflowing gratefulness at the ways God has used so many people, experiences, achievements, and very significantly a family of faith to change me.
This weekend I had the privilege of addressing a huge crowd (the best count we can amass was well over 200!) on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the church I have the privilege to pastor. As I prepared for that day, looking back through the church’s history, sorting through pictures, I found myself in awe of how God has worked through and sometimes in spite of all of the weaknesses and oddities and gifts of these folks to create an ever-clearer image of Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong – we’re not there yet, but it’s been happening for decades and it continues. And, in the midst of this corporate refining, there are so many individual lives that God is reshaping, removing things, replacing things, rearranging things….and here I sit as a man called by God and this church to be a pastor, a leader, a shepherd. With all of the fear and insecurity that has plagued me for as long as I can remember, it seems an impossible task.
But then, even as I formulate these thoughts, these words come ringing like a whisper on the wind:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)
It dawns on me that, the reason I feel less and less afraid of the disapproval of people is that I am learning more and more what that perfect love that casts out fear really is. It’s not that we love perfectly or do anything perfectly, but that it is the love of God working in and through us to teach us to live out the grace and mercy we have experienced from God and ever more from one another.
My grandmother passed away several years ago at the age of 93. She loved us all unmistakably. She was the textbook definition of “crazy old lady.” I remember in my childhood how she would take her cup of coffee there on the saucer and tip it just a little so that the coffee spilled over into the saucer. Then she’d sip it from the saucer. She said it helped it cool down just enough to be able to drink it.
I’ve often thought about that as I’ve heard the saying somewhere that, “I’m drinkin’ from the saucer ’cause my cup runneth over!” My cup is indeed running over with love, gratitude, and grace.
Is yours? Tell me about it.