Plain Vanilla Ice Cream
I just want plain vanilla ice cream. I am in our church fellowship hall, it’s a large multipurpose building with a dining area, kitchen, and serving area. I am walking up to the table to place my order of ice cream. I really don’t care for ice cream, but occasionally I will just randomly crave it. I usually don’t even finish it. But my pastor had bought a commercial-style ice cream machine for our church and was obsessing over it. It even somehow found his way into sermons and he was constantly tinkering with it. So I guess all that talk made me want to try some.
Now I am at the table where my close friend is serving. I say to her, “I just want plain vanilla ice cream.” Of course, she tries to talk me into extra toppings. Because want kind of person just wants plain vanilla ice cream? “No, I just want plain vanilla ice cream”, so she rushes to the machine, but hands the bowl off to a stranger. This stranger walks up to the table and gives me the ice cream. She is beautiful. She has long auburn colored hair and green eyes. But when she smiles, it’s like the world stops spinning. I’ve liked some girls before but never had a person captivate me like this.
So I give her my awkward introverted smile back but I am speechless. I want to ask, “who are you?”, but I just can’t get the words to come out of my mouth. I didn’t know it at the time, but one year later at the same place, we would be formally introduced by my pastor, eventually fall madly in love, get married and raise a family together. It’s a journey that started with plain vanilla ice cream. A moment that is frozen in time. The moment when I saw her for the first time.
Our journey together is not over, but hanging over me is this dark cloud of dread and fear. It’s the unknown. The moment when I will see her for the last time. I don’t know when it will be, who will go first, or whether it will be unexpected or not. But I am hoping that I will look into her green eyes, hold her hand, and see her smile one last time. Because, after all, I just wanted plain vanilla ice cream, but she has given me so much more.
“To love is to be afraid. You are frightened, deathly terrified, that something will happen to those you love. […] And love enslaves us all, for you cannot have love without fear.”
― Marie Lu
I think that fear and love are two of the most powerful emotions in the world. Fear keeps us from doing things that we otherwise would have and love makes us do things that we otherwise would not. Marriage is where fear and love collide. Maybe that is why falling in love is such a powerful emotion. The fear of rejection is blasted away by the feelings of love and acceptance. God made marriage to be this delicate balance between fear and love. But it is the joy and victory of love over the fear that makes love so amazing.
This is the story of fear and love. This is how love wins.
Overcome Fear by Living in the Present
The Power of Now
Fear makes your mind fast forward to an uncertain future. But by focusing on the now that is certain you can ground yourself at the moment you are in. I cannot control what might happen in the future, but I live in the moment I am in right now. Tomorrow everything could change but right now I have the love of my life by my side.
At a sweetheart banquet at our church, I passed out note cards and everyone wrote down their worst fear about marriage. By far the most common was losing your spouse. Other answers included failing your spouse in some way. All of them involved the future. The reality is that those fears could become a reality.
The chance of one of you dying before the other is real. Depending on your particular situation, I am sure that things like age, health, and lifestyle play into it. But it’s at least a 50/50 chance that your spouse will die before you.
So, you overcome this fear by living in the moment you are in, instead of the one that you are not. God gives you grace to live in the moment you are in right now, not the one that you might be in tomorrow. By distancing yourself from the future, you can learn to live in the Grace that God has given you for today.
Jesus, in His great Sermon on the Mount, said the following:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.Matthew 6:33-34
Jesus was teaching that you should live in the present instead of worrying about tomorrow. Fear of tomorrow is overcome by living in today. There is this song that I enjoy listening too, it is sung by several groups and it’s called Fear not Tomorrow. It contains the powerful words, “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.” God will be there for you tomorrow just like He is today.
The Power of Here
I want you to open your Bible and put your hands on the pages. You are here right now in this moment and all the promises of God’s Word are right here with you. Fear is no match for the truth of God’s world. And that truth will help you when nothing else in this world can.
A car battery has a red (hot wire) and a black (ground wire). The ground wire is connected to the frame of the car and without that “grounding” the red wire can’t work right. So the car will not start, and all the electronics will not come on. Love and faith are the same way, if it is not grounded to the frame of the Bible it just will not work right. Touch your Bible, read its pages, memorize it, and ground your love for the Lord and your spouse in its truths.
Truth is the antecedent of fear. All three of my daughters went through this phase where they were afraid of the dark. So one of the things I did to help them was I would turn on the lights and let them look at everything in the room, under the bed, in the closet, and behind the door. Then when I turned out the lights, I explained to them that the room was exactly the same as before. The truth drives out fear. God’s Word is the ultimate truth, and you are experiencing truth right now where you are at. Reality is truth and it is here, fear is in the future and it is not here.
For example, if you have a fear of your spouse cheating on you, turn the lights on so you can see the truth. Talk to them about it and see what they are doing on their phone or the computer. Or ask them to tell you about their relationships outside of the home. So by “turning on the lights” and exposing the truth you destroy that fear. Truth triumphs over fear.
Use the truth that you have right now to overcome whatever fear you are experiencing in your life. The Bible is the ultimate light, so use that light to ground you in the present and keep your mind from drifting to fear of the future. When I am afraid about something, I find a bible verse about it, and I quote it to myself. That verse that I have in my heart keeps me grounded in the present and helps me stay with God right now.
I love the words of Psalm 119
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.Psalm 119: 11-16
The power of God’s Word in the here and now is the greatest weapon against any fear that you could ever have. If you have fear in your life, use the truth in the Bible to ground you to the here and now.
The Power of Praise
I like to think about how incredibly good God is to me. His goodness is something that I can rejoice in right now. In fact, if nothing else I can rejoice in who He is to me. This another way of grounding yourself in God’s presence right now and overcoming fear.
I have a dear godly friend who is the same age me. She met the love of her life, got married in a beautiful ceremony, and had four beautiful babies. But then EVERYTHING fell apart in her marriage. Just like that her husband was gone. We all cried and prayed but had no idea how to change things. But she wrote and sang this amazing song during that time. She calls it, “I Can Praise My Way Out of Problems.” That praise grounded her and she has raised those four kids on her own with God’s help.
Fear is no match for genuine praise. So focus on how good God is to you and either vocalize it or write it down. There is something about singing His praise that makes your fears seem small. It’s like God made us enjoy singing His praises. So sing a song of praise just to Him. Take out a piece of paper and start writing down all the benefits you have right now as one of His children.
This kind of praise pulls you away from the fear of tomorrow and grounds you in the here and now.
I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.Psalm 145:5-7
Overcome Fear by Trusting the One You Love
Fear can keep you from doing things. I was always afraid of public speaking, I would even take a zero in school to keep from having to talk in front of my class. Just the thought of being the center of attention is something that I have always wanted to avoid. That is until my love for the Lord became greater than that fear. As long as He wants me to do it, I will for Him.
I don’t just trust a stranger, but I trust a Savior who I know loves me. So fear can be overcome by trusting the person you love.
The Bible says,
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.I John 4:18
Identify the Root of Fear
Whatever fears you have in your life, the root of that fear is the problem. And finding that root is the key to freeing yourself from that fear. It’s no secret, especially since I wrote a book about it, that I struggled greatly with the assurance of my salvation for a few years. There were some really dark days during that time. The root of the problem is that I had to learn to trust Him instead of how I felt, what other people said, or what I thought I did or didn’t do. I found assurance when I just simply trusted Him. But my salvation was secure even when I didn’t have that assurance. So I overcame that fear by trusting the person that I love.
I don’t know what kinds of fears you may be facing in your marriage and life, but you can find the root in your lack of trust in Christ. There is this story in the Bible that I have heard and read since I was a child. The disciples were in a boat and stuck in a terrible storm when they spotted Jesus walking on water. In an amazing act of faith, Peter steps out of the boat and into the stormy waters to walk to Jesus, but he starts to sink when he becomes afraid and looks at the waves around him instead of Jesus. (See Matthew 14:22-33)
My faith is a lot like that. Sometimes, I have so much confidence in Him, but then I look around me and start to sink. But He doesn’t let me sink, I feel his hand in mine pulling me up from the waves of life and carrying me through the storm. That’s because He loves me and wants me to know that I can trust Him.
Trust is something that you build in your relationship over time. Sometimes that trust becomes violated and you have to build it back up. Maybe you become untrustworthy because of something you have done. Other times you have to just let go of your fears and just trust your spouse as hard as it may seem. Tell your spouse that you are trusting them, and that confidence will motivate them to live up to that trust. Fear is no match for trust.
Accept the Possibility of that Fear
This is the problem with fear, it is often based in reality. For instance, there is a possibility that I may not make it home today. There is a chance that my spouse could die before me. And the list goes on and on. Facing that fear and living your life is a powerful feeling. You have to understand that ultimately God is in control of what happens in your life. So you have to let go of that fear and trust that He loves you too much to do you wrong and that He is too wise to make a mistake.
I don’t know that fear ever really goes away, it just gets overwritten by love. Your spouse could leave you. That possibility is what makes love such a powerful emotion. Choose to love instead of fear.
I used to like roller coasters and I still do to an extent. They make them visually intimidating and deliberately set the rides up for long waits to build the intensity of the fear. But really when you get to the ride, you are strapped in so tightly that nothing is going to happen to you. So the fear is almost manufactured but you still get the adrenaline rush of facing your fear. When you get off the ride is like an exhilaration that you actually did it.
Fear in life is not like a roller coaster. It is not manufactured and there are no safety nets or ridiculous devices to keep you safe. But you overcome those fears by going into motion in spite of them. You face them head-on and live your life. It’s like going into motion makes the giants of fear small
I remember the moment that I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me. I was afraid but when I took that first step, all the things I was afraid of got small. The key to overcoming fear is engaging in the activity that causes that fear. After all, you can trust Jesus with your life.
Allow Love to Control Your Fear
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.II Corinthians 5:14-15
The one thing that makes me do things even when I am afraid is the love that I know that Jesus has for me and the love that I have for Him. So instead of letting fear control you, let love control you. My love for the Lord constrains me to live for Him. My love for my wife causes me to be faithful to her even though I may have fear. Overcome fear by trusting the one you love. Learn to trust your spouse and you will not regret it.
Overcome Fear by Reading the End of the Story
My daughters enjoy reading books. They get that love from their Dad, I like to learn from reading and sometimes a good fiction book can allow you to go places and experience things that you otherwise would not. My oldest daughter will sometimes spoil the story by turning to the end to see what happens. That drives me crazy by the way!
Sometimes in life, you can overcome fear by understanding how your story is going to end.
Enjoy the Experience of Love
Love is the most amazing emotion that God has gifted to this world. Poets spend hundreds of hours writing about it. Countless books and movies have been written about it. People spend lifetimes looking for the spark of love. Married couples are desperate to feel it again. Besides putting your faith in Jesus, falling in love is the most amazing thing to experience in this life.
“I was made and meant to look for you and wait for you and become yours forever.”
― Robert Browning
To fall in love is to live the story that God has written for you. It’s an experience that helps you understand the story of love in the Gospel. Falling in love changes you as a person. It makes you another person, a better person, a person who knows how to love, and a person who is loved. You are living a story of love every day when you wake up beside each other. You read the end of that story by holding on tight to the story that you have right now.
Because a lifetime is nothing but thousands of little moments strung together. You get to end one moment at a time. The moment you are in right now will someday be a memory so don’t miss that moment no matter how small. Those moments will write the end of your story together.
Expect Your Story of Love to Have a Happy Ending
Half the battle of success in marriage is what you envision it to be. If you can envision yourself being in love tomorrow, you can live in that reality today. So this is how it works, you imagine your love as lasting for a lifetime and you end up living for the ending. The great thing about being in love is that together you get to decide what that ending will be.
Erase the word divorce from your vocabulary. That is not a word that we are going to use. We will not let our love story crash. It doesn’t matter what anybody else in this world thinks. Hold onto each other so tightly that your spouse can’t let go of you.
So sit down and turn to the end of your story and decide what kind of ending you are going to write. And write it down with all the passion you can muster. Fight with all your might for that happy ending. Fight to keep your love strong. Fight to stay madly in love. If you feel that love start to slip away, grab it and pull it back.
The Gospel is a story of love that never stops. It never stops believing in you. Overcome fear by expecting your story to have a happy ending.
At the End of the Story as a Christian You Win
It’s the one thing that you have to remember that God has a plan for your life that will glorify Him and benefit you. There is this Bible verse that I just can’t get away from. Sometimes I wake up at night quoting it. I hear its words while I am driving to work.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.Jeremiah 29:11
Whatever happens to your love story, at the end of the day, it’s all going to be okay. My life is in the hands of someone who loves me so much that He gave His life on the cross for me. And I know that what He has for me will be good and perfect. Sometimes, I put my arms around my wife, hold her tight, and whisper in her ear, “everything is going to be okay.” I can hear Jesus telling me these same words, “It’s going to be okay,”
One day when this life is all said and done, He will say, “I told you it would be okay.” Just like Peter when Jesus pulled him out of the waves of the sea, “where is your faith?”, “I told you it was gonna be okay!” Regardless of what happens to your love story from now till then, it’s gonna be okay!
Overcome Fear by:
- Living in the Present
- Trusting the One You Love
- Reading the End of the Story
Music by Wes Hutchinson