There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19
“James, what was it? What brought you home? Why after all of these years?” I asked him. I wondered so many times after I saw the obvious change in his behavior and his eyes full of light and love for his God and his family. It seemed to happen overnight. Did he just drop to his knees one day and God miraculously touched him? Did he read a section of scripture and the Holy Spirit opened his eyes to truth? Or was is something horrific, like being awakened in a cold sweat from a nightmare or seeing a family suffer on a call he responded to at work? He was speechless at first in his response, and then the tears came. He looked at me and his eyes spoke first. Regret, with forgiveness, shame, with restoration. Then he spoke the words I can still feel in my heart today, “I couldn’t resist how much you loved me.”
Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8
James wasn’t speaking of my love for him; he was speaking of God’s love for him through me. I always believed, although wavered at times in that belief that God would set him free, save him, restore him to Himself first then to his family. God was using the gift of faith He had given me to wait and pray my husband home. Home to his family, but ultimately home to heaven!
Through the process of James’ struggle to come home, I still can recall watching the intense, progressive battle. Recently I read The Faith Factor by F. Chapin Marsh III. He perfectly explains what I witnessed in James’ life. He called it “the enemy within: the three enemies of faith.” These three enemies are fear, unbelief and indecision. Typical of James was his inability to make decisions. Following this backward, it was rooted in fear. Dr. Marsh explains it like this: (1) Fear: which considers every opportunity from the point of “worst case scenario.” (2) Unbelief: which shouts “YOU ARE NOT WORTHY!” (3) Indecision: which paralyzes with fear and unbelief any good thing God may have for us.
James had gotten so far from God and so far from his family that he believed at one point that he was “too far.” We all do the same in various areas of our life. The debt is “too much”, we will never pay it off. My health is “too poor” to even bother trying to exercise or eat right. I have messed up “too bad” that there is no turning back and it is beyond forgiveness. That is where James was with me. The affair was bad, but the child? How could he ever go back to me now and face Avery, after having a child with another woman? How could our marriage ever work again? How could I ever forgive him for that? There he found himself in FEAR. He considered every opportunity from the worst-case scenario. He believed that I would never be able to forgive him, move past this sin, and still love him. Even if I appeared to, one day it would “come up again.” He thought he would have to live with the remembrance of what he did for the rest of our lives. These fears lead to UNBELIEF. Not only did he not believe that he could be forgiven from God and I, but he did not believe that he was worthy of this forgiveness. He allowed the enemy to taunt him into believing that the sin he committed was unforgivable, the only one Jesus did not die for on the cross.
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
All sin was forgiven on the cross. From fear to unbelief, James was led to INDECISION. About three years before he came home he sat in this paralyzing fear and unbelief, which kept him away from his family and away from his God. I remember seeing his desire to come home. He would visit and spend time with Avery and struggle to leave. He was emotionally and spiritually torn. I hated it for him. It was like he was being tortured. The fear and unbelief was so overpowering he couldn’t make the decision to surrender to God, ask for forgiveness, receive that forgiveness then be reconciled to his family.
Thank God we all know the end of the story for James. God used me to love him with His unconditional love. The love that “covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8) and James accepted it. He surrendered his life to God, confessed his sins and asked for forgiveness. God extended His grace, forgave him and restored him. James was set free from fear and unbelief and was no longer paralyzed in indecision.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I can learn a lot from watching James. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. I can see it clearer in his life than in my own, which is so often true for most of us. With this new revelation, I have been challenged to look at my own life. Where are my fears? Where does the enemy have me dwelling in unbelief feeling as though I am not worthy? Am I paralyzed in indecision? Even as I write this, I can already recall several situations since James’ death where this was true. I found myself paralyzed not able to make a decision. No decision is a decision however. It usually is a decision to miss a blessing. I don’t want to get ripped off in this world. I want the abundant, full life that God wants to give me. So now, when someone asks me, “Hey, Tina wanna do….or how about this….?” My standard response is “sure!” It used to start with, “I can’t….or Let me think about it” Don’t get ripped off. James almost missed it. He almost missed freedom on earth. And I almost missed seeing it happen all from fear, unbelief and indecision.