I am fully capable of being an over thinker and analyzing things to their core. And when I think this way, it can lead to a lot of “What ifs?” and “Should haves” and “Oh nos” going through my brain. And what does this way of thinking lead to? It leads to fear. Ahhh, fear. I used to fear needles and hospitals and bad dreams and scary movies as a kid. Now I fear things like rejection, heartbreak and disappointment. But the thing is, fear is no stranger to any of us. And perhaps we fear, well, fear itself. We want to live safely. We want to live comfortably and in control of our lives, right?
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “fear the Lord.” In fact, it’s spoken in the Bible quite a few times. I’ve been learning a lot about it lately and what it means. Another ongoing lesson the Lord seems to be teaching me is trust. Trusting in Him, trusting in His plan, etc. It’s kind of a never ending lesson because well, trust is hard. As humans beings we have a hard time trusting one another. Because we’re human and the truth is that humans mess up. But to trust God, who we can not physically see right now? That takes faith. I know that I can trust Him, and I have to choose to believe that, even though sometimes it may “feel” like I can’t. So if you think about it, there is fear in trust. Think about a trust fall. Did you ever do those with your friends when you were younger? I can recall numerous memories of this, and it was scary! But think of the relief that comes when someone actually catches you. And in this crazy real life, I am proven time and time again that God always catches me. Fall after fall after fall. Like wow…I fall a lot. But this is how faith grows. It wouldn’t be “faith” if there wasn’t a little bit of fear in there.
The well known John Piper talks about fear in one of his books. He describes the fear of God by using an illustration as if we were trapped in a terrible storm while exploring an Arctic glacier. He writes, “At first there was the fear that this terrible storm and awesome terrain might claim your life. But then you found a refuge and gained the hope that you would be safe. But not everything in the feeling called fear vanished from your heart. Only the life-threatening part. There remained the trembling, the awe, the wonder, the feeling that you would never want to tangle with such a storm or be the adversary of such power. . . . The fear of God is what is left of the storm when you have a safe place to watch right in the middle of it. . . . Oh, the thrill of being here in the center of the awful power of God, yet protected by God himself!” (The Pleasures of God, 186– 187).
The kind of fear that is talked about here is a kind that makes me want to prance around, or sprint rather, shouting how big and powerful the Lord is. It’s the kind that makes me want to live so boldly and take the biggest risks I can possibly dream up. To love people without holding back and without the worry that I’m “too much” or “not enough,” or that I might get rejected. Doesn’t this kind of fear sound so freeing, rather than the kind of fear we know all too well? I think it’s because we believe the fear that we know all too well, rather than the holy kind of fear. We believe the worldly fear so easily due to it’s lies and deceitfulness, and we let it get the best of us. But to stand in awe at the feet of this wonderful and ever so powerful God…that’s the holy kind. I heard in a talk once that, “The person or people who we ascribe the most authority in our lives – the one who defines who we are, what we’re worth, what we should do, and how we should do it – is the person(s) we fear the most, because it is the person(s) whose approval we want most.” This might just reveal who or what our hearts love and value the most. And perhaps the Lord created it this way because the fear for Him is suppose to be there.
“The fear of the Lord leads to life; and he who has it rests satisfied” (Proverbs 19:23). This is a holy kind of fear. A freeing kind of fear. Isn’t it crazy?! This makes no sense to the world. How could fear be freeing? But maybe it’s to take a trusting fall into the arms of a God who has taken on flesh and entered into this broken world to save us from death. Maybe it’s to accept the fact that someone has paid the price to set us free and loves us more than we could ever comprehend. Maybe it’s to see Him use us in ways that are only Heavenly possible. May we stand in such awe of this power, this Father that catches us each and every time. I don’t know about you, but this is the only kind of fear I want to know. And the only thing I want to be scared of is ever straying away from this God that loves me this much. So I want to choose this fear and I know that each day I choose to do so, all the other fears I have will gradually become smaller and more insignificant over time. As Jim Thomas said, “fear of the Lord means we don’t have to fear anything else.” Not death. Not man. Not circumstances. Not even fear itself.
words by Megan Sauers and photo by Gretta Sheehan