In my journey to greater wholeness and continuing inner transformation of my soul, I had to come to the point of realizing that I feared the love of God. This may sound strange to some who are reading this post. but stay with me as I share more. The words of I John 4:18 are becoming more of a reality in my following Jesus. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” I have come to learn that my fear of God’s love is based more on my fear of myself. Instead of facing my real self, with all its shortcoming, I have spent most of my adult life hiding this real self and all of negative emotions involved. I was afraid to admit the depth of my guilt and the accompanying feelings of rejection, guilt, and shame. I kept God’s love from entering my deeper self. In my shame and vulnerability I was afraid of the one thing I most longed for in my life
In my fear I lived with strict boundaries. This caused me to try to be in control of my life both outwardly and inwardly. There was a real fear of getting out of control. David Benner points out, “The notion of being afraid of one’s self points to the inner conflict that lies at the core of fear. Although the object of one’s fears may seem to be external, the real source of the fear is internal. The danger is within. The enemy is one’s own self.” For me the guilt I often felt was not real, objective guilt, but rather a fear that came from the unrealistic expectations I put on myself. This unresolved guilt prevented me from receiving God”s love for me. I didn’t think I deserved his love, so I would work harder to prove that I was deserving. I had a fear of messing up and not pleasing God.
Men, Jesus knows that so many of us have this fear of love. That is why He says, “Don’t be afraid.” Why! Because our Father knows how much we as men struggle with responding to anything that threatens our need for control. These words to our heart are not a command but an invitation. God freely initiates a loving relationship with us. Richard Rohr observes that as men, “we are threatened by such a free God because it takes away all or our ability to control or engineer the process.” We are talking about surrender, trust and vulnerability.
God simply loves us because he is good. Why is it so hard to surrender to such love? Because it feels like the loss of control and power. But this is what happens to a “wildmen” in Christ. We have to trust God and not any of our goodness and righteousness. It is a risky journey into the outer world with lots of uncertainty and at times failure. Many men would rather play it safe in the world of idea and programs, rather then risk being loved by a God who asks for total surrender. But remember that in surrender we are free to finally begin to know the love of God, thus becoming the man we were create to be from before the foundation of the world. In the relational knowing of love, our hearts begin to thaw out as we let go of the controls, knowing that God really love us in our stink. A wild man is someone who is experiencing the springtime of a spiritual thaw.