Sometimes, the Bible can be really confusing. But usually, it’s not the Bible that is confusing, it’s just me that is confused.
Ever since I accepted God’s free gift of salvation, I have learned about this all powerful loving God who wants the best for us all the time. He loves us. Loves us. Loves us. And, whatever happens in our life happens is a result of that love for us.
Lately, I have had this recurring thought that I need to fear God more. The problem is, I’m not sure what exactly that means.
Life experience has taught me that God works in mysterious ways (Can I coin that phrase? I am pretty sure I am the first to use it.). I have felt God’s love. And, I have felt a complete lack of God’s love (at least from my perspective) in my life. This doesn’t mean that I think God has forgotten me, or isn’t there. It simply means that I chose to do life without God and he honored my choice. This choice is pretty much always followed by the choice to run back to him and admit how dumb I was to even think that I could handle life on my own.
So where does the fear come in to play? I mean, every time I run back to him, he is waiting for me with open arms. Every time I need him, he is there. Every. Single. Time. Why would I fear someone…
Who will always forgive me?
Who loves me unconditionally?
Who created me in his image?
Who died for me?
Who conquered death for me?
To make matters more confusing…
Psalms 34 (NLT)
4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
The Lord frees me from all my fears if I fear him. I don’t get it. Praying to him? I get. Radiant joy? Felt it. Saving me from all my troubles? Check. Being guarded by angels? Most definitely. Fearing him? Huh?
Let’s keep reading.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
Yes! We find joy in taking refuge in him. But fearing in the Lord to get what I need just doesn’t compute. Trusting in the Lord makes much more sense. So maybe fear doesn’t necessarily mean fear as we know it.
Maybe it’s not fear like I fear drowning. Maybe it’s not fear like a fear small, tight spaces. Maybe it’s not fear like I fear the idea of my son going hang gliding at age 6 (yes, this is an actual dilemma I am facing).
Maybe it is a fear like a fear of abandonment. Perhaps we should fear that God will leave us to our own sin if we continue. Or maybe it is a fear of punishment. Perhaps we should fear that the Lord will throw a lightning bolt down at us for doing evil.
But Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we could have an uninterrupted relationship with our Creator. Jesus died, and rose from the dead, so that there would be no more barrier between us and God. So those definitions of fear just won’t do.
Maybe fear, in this case, means trust, respect, or admiration. Perhaps we trust in our father so we choose to serve him. Perhaps we respect our father so we choose to turn from our evil ways. Perhaps we admire our father so we strive to be like him.
So really, our fear for him helps us to demonstrate our love for him.
Somewhere along the line the meaning of the word fear got placed in a silo where it could only be associated with negativity, punishment, and terrible horror films. I’m not sure that’s the case and I don’t think it is too big of a stretch to think that fear can mean the same as respect. I fear motorcycles. I am pretty sure I would die if I ever tried to drive one. But at the same time, I have so much respect for the motorcycle as a machine. It is beautiful and powerful and scary.
I fear God then not because he could strike me dead at any moment, but because he loved me enough to make me, to give me the choice to love him back, and then to humble himself, come down to this planet as one of us, and die for me when I chose myself over him.
Yeah. I’m trembling in love for God.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!
21 Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Do you fear the Lord?