The Fear Of God — With The Eyes Of A Child
One of the harder concepts for me to come to grips with has always been the ‘fear of God’. The arrogance of my youth created anger and rejection in my heart whenever I was told that I should do so. I suppose it’s a natural reaction as a young person to believe (or to want to believe) that there is nothing to fear from your creator. It is a confusing message as well when an adult tells you that God loves you, but you should fear him.
Whether intentional or not there is a lack of clarification on these two, seemingly, opposite attributes of God. How and why would the entity that created us and loves us expect us to fear it?
Wrong Kind Of Fear?
From birth, we are conditioned to believe that fear is a negative emotion. We are taught to fear things that are bad for us. First, we fear the boogyman and the hot stove. Then we fear the bully in the schoolyard and the stranger on the street. When we are grown we fear the IRS and the next election. It is no wonder that someone saying that we should fear God illicit’s a negative response? That is all we know and there is rarely any further explanation.
When there is clarification it is usually structured as a form of control—fear the punishment for doing the wrong thing. This lack of clarification and abuse of messaging leads to the wrong kind of fear.
Right Kind Of Fear?
So what is the right kind of fear?
Imagine you are standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now take a moment to think about what really lies before you—A true wonder of the world we live in. Think about the sheer size of the space, and the fact that the same space was once filled with the dense earth you are currently standing on. Think about the forces that joined together to create the wonder you are looking at—erosion, pressure, wind, water—and the time it took to make it all happen.
Now step right up to the edge and look down. That feeling you have as you gaze into the abyss—that it could swallow you whole and no one would ever know—is the right kind of fear. It is self-preservation, awareness of scale, and awe of immensity all wrapped up in one breathtaking moment. You do not fear it because it means you harm. You fear it because you could be harmed by it if you are not mindful of each step you take. There are a million ways to die inside of it because the physical danger is everywhere. There are also a million ways to live because the spiritual pleasures are just as plentiful.
All of these physical dangers and spiritual pleasures exist together in this space with no intent (either for good or for ill) towards you. They just are. It is up to you to guard yourself against what could hurt you and seek out what could help.
In other words, the right kind of fear is a positive force to guide you. It protects you from the pitfalls and the predators. It steadies your step. It keeps you safely on the path in an environment that is beyond your human capacity to either understand or control.
The Fear Of God — Understanding & Acceptance
Understanding this concept (in this way) was the key to freeing my heart. It allowed me to let go of my anger at the notion itself. My fear of God guides me daily. It strengthens my resolve whenever life starts to beat me down. I fear nothing but God. Everything else is either a negative to be avoided or a positive to be embraced.