Dear Church Family,

Wednesday night we had the first gathering of the church’s book club. It was wonderful to talk about books and how they have deepened our faith and shown us the world in a new way. One of the authors we read was Fred Buechner. Something he wrote years ago has always stuck with me. He is writing about a time when his daughter almost died from anorexia. He loved her so much but he came to realize that his kind love was not what she needed at the time. As he puts it, “John writes [in 1 John 4:18] ‘Perfect love casteth out fear,’ and the other side of that is that fear like mine casteth out love, even God’s love. The love I had for my daughter was lost in the anxiety I had for my daughter.”

He goes on to describe the love that did eventually help his daughter. It was the love the doctors and case workers and therapists gave to her once she was hospitalized. Precisely because they could love her without fear in a way that Buechner, as her father, could not, they gave her the love she needed. He then shares, “God loves in something like this way, I think. The power that created the universe and spun the dragonfly’s wing and is beyond all other powers holds back, in love, from overpowering us…Walking down the corridor to the room that had her name taped to the door, I felt that presence surrounding me like air—God in his very stillness, holding his breath, loving her, loving us all, the only way he can without destroying us.”

There is so much I have carried with me from his words; so much I have prayed about since I read them the first time. First, the other side of the Bible verse as he shares it: that just as love can cast out fear, fear can also cast out love. And second, that even when God feels distant it may be that he is loving me just as Buechner describes, by “holding his breath.” Today, include in your prayers the request that God help you not let fear cast out your love and thank him for the great love he has for you, so great that he even holds back, loving you in a way that won’t destroy you.

Prayer: Loving Lord, I can barely fathom how great your love is for me and for all of your children. Help me to live full of love and not fear. Help me to love as you love, even when it is painful and difficult. Teach me your ways. Help me to know you deeper and deeper each day and, knowing you, help me to live in the way you have shown. In your holy name I pray. Amen.

Christ’s peace be with you all,