I Fear God
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
–Proverbs 9:10, NIV
I spent my early life looking for answers. I wanted to believe anything that made sense. Fortunately, God found me, and I now seek to know and share this God more and more.
If you believe in Calvinistic election, you would call it my election showing itself. If you believe in God calling certain people to service (for example, Jeremiah), you would call it my calling beginning to manifest. If you believe in the prodding of the Holy Spirit, you would call it the Holy Spirit acting on me in my youth. There are many ways it can potentially be described. No matter what, as I said, God found me.
At the age of 16 I began this journey with God. I was taught to think critically, to know what I believe. This included that “fear the Lord your God” meant a combination of respect with some actual fear since He has the power to do whatever He wants (not in the tyrannical way it might sound, because God demonstrates so much grace and love to be that kind of King). It is not actually healthy to live afraid of God. That kind of fear hinders our commitment and actions.
Think about like mountain climbing. The extreme kind with cliffs and ropes and dangling from stupid heights. Any experienced climber will tell you that if you are terrified of heights or ever stop fearing the drop – basically saying if you stop worrying that you might fall to your death – you need to leave. Too much fear or no fear leaves you more open to lethal mistakes.
Likewise, if we are afraid of God we will not want to follow Him either at all or as we should. If we have no fear of God, we are apt to think of ourselves more highly than we should.
Now for my confession:
Sometimes, God scares me.
The fear that He will condemn me to hell? Well, sometimes, but I have found assurance in His Word that I am saved.
The fear that God may not exist? Not anymore. I have seen, heard, and experienced too much for that possibility.
No, God scares me when I look at the possibility of ministry, when I look at my marriage, when I look at my relationships, when I study for school.
In reverse order, I get scared that God has called me to study His Word and His Church and His world … and I will misunderstand, fail to comprehend, and, most importantly, fail to teach it. I get scared that God has given me friends and family … and I will hurt them, fail them, and disappoint them. I get scared that God has given me a wife … and I will neglect her, hurt her, or disappoint God in my devotion to her or Him. I get scared that God has called me to share His message … and I will mess it up, misrepresent Him, or just plain fail.
I mean on a daily basis. I get scared.
I get scared God could call me to leave everything behind. I get scared God could tell me I have it all wrong. I get scared God could call me to something difficult … which, really, life with God has a tendency to be difficult.
Who wants to love the unloveable? Who wants to forgive the unforgiveable? Who wants to think of others first? Who wants to deny themselves of their wants and desires?
However, it helps me understand a little better “deny [yourself] and take up [your] cross daily and follow me” and that saying “die daily to yourself”. It helps me understand a little better “What is impossible with man is possible with God” and “I can do everything through [Christ] who gives me strength.”
Fear can push us to love and trust and respect, or fear can push us run or hide or sit still. Sometimes I do the former, others I do the latter.
Fortunately for me – and I would assume most people, nay, every person – God can redeem and work through my failings. I pray He continues to let me help mess it up … I mean help Him!