We run faster and faster to gain more and more control, but we never arrive at our destination. However, control is an illusion. No amount of control will ever be enough to make sure of our safety or remove our fears. So, how can we be set free from fear apart from our feeble attempts at control? The answer is found in 1 John 4:18, "Perfect Love casts out fear." It is the very presence of God that removes fear, for God himself is love. (1 John 4:8) Fear loses its grip on our souls when it is confronted with the love of God, as our hearts and minds delight Him. There's no point in forming my own thoughts on something that Sky Jethani has already verbalized so perfectly in his book With. He says "It is the experiential knowledge of Gods love---his unyielding goodness towards us---that delivers us from fear and gives us the courage to surrender to him." Those who live with God are set free from fear. Even though it may seem like it, God has not abandoned this world to chaos. He is still able to bring order out of the chaos, and those united with Him do not have to fear the unpredictable and powerful forces that surround them. God is the ultimate source of hope even in a world that appears to be drowning in chaos. (Isaiah 43:1-3)
What is hope? Sky Jethani describes hope in these ways-
- Hope is the opposite of despair.
- Hope is the conviction that despite what we may see and experience, everything is not meaningless.
- Hope is much more than wishful thinking or unfounded optimism.
- Hope is a "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (Hebrews 16:19)
- Hope is what allows us to keep our bearing in turbulent seas; it is the assurance that the chaos we experience in this world will not win, but God's purposes will overcome.
- Hope should not be contingent on morality or circumstances.
"A great many of us have come to believe that hope and significance is an external construct--something contingent on our circumstances. As a result, we fail to believe that the Christian life, at least in its fullest and most abundant form, can be lived anywhere. Os Guinness said it this way; first and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or outer Mongolia). In other words, it is not our circumstances or behaviors or radical decisions that give our lives meaning and hope, but our unity with God himself." - Sky Jethani
Finding our hope with God rather than in the condition of life, means that if something were to happen to change our circumstances, perhaps even by tragedy, our hope would not be diminished, but remain steadfast. When we live life with God it breaks the cycle of fear and control that plagues other postures of life. Once our lifestyle of fear is interrupted, genuine faith and hope become accessible to us. But faith and hope are not the only, nor are they the greatest, qualities to be cultivated when we live life with God. "And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13) (John 13:35) Life with God begins with delighting in God himself rather than seeking to use Him. Sky Jethani says that God does not victimize or manipulate us as instruments of his will regardless of what the world may think. Rather His joy is found in using us as the objects of his love because we are his beloved children (Zeph 3:17). What do you think about that?
"Love is the beginning and the end, the origin and culmination of our relationship with God. And along the way it provokes wonder, illuminates discoveries, and ignites joy.
Solitude with God is what fuels an engine of love within us--love that is courageous, generous, and unending. Amid the throngs, there will continue to be a secret and intensely intimate communion shared only between each individual and God. That is what we have been created for. Life under, over, from, and for God will pass away. But life with God, like the love that fuels it, will never end. Until then we continue to pursue our lives with him, find refreshment in the undeserved rain of love, long for the day when we shall see him face-to-face, and there discover who we really are."
Reading the book With has caused me to be very introspective. I know that the biggest challenges in my life right now are fear and discouragement. They are things I feel I lack control over. I cannot say that I have found revelation through Skye Jethani. If I did I would be lying. I am affected by fear, anxiety, and discouragement in the same ways now as I was when I began this reading. I am trying ever so hard to surrender my fears to God. . . It is just so incredibly hard.