The other day in Bible study one of our participants was speaking of the fear of God in her life. She spoke of the holy reverence that she feels. I have been sitting with my own thoughts and feelings about such a phrase--fear of God.
In my life's journey, fear has been a dominant player, from early on. The fear of loss a constant in my growing up years, wondering who would leave next. In my early faith life my fear was always about trying to keep God from leaving. If I could just be good enough, maybe the thing I feared most wouldn't happen.
I don't fear God in that way anymore, as One who watches everything I do, watching for that moment I will mess up, ready to head for the door. I remember the day my whole perspective changed. I was sitting in church, racked with guilt for something I had done or had left undone. In my heart I was pleading with God to forgive me, begging Him for mercy. And I felt these words pass across my heart, an aching Question: "What kind of monster do you think I Am?"
I am no longer afraid of God.
God is my hiding place, my refuge. My only fear of Him is that He is really into character development. He is relentless in His pursuit of Godly Holiness in our lives. And no matter how gentle and loving He is, He never relents from ushering us into those places of growth and refinement, and oh how the Fire that Refines hurts. That's what I fear: that the God of the universe is so interested in my character that He never backs down from taking me places I would rather not go when that is exactly what His Holiness in my life demands.
But my "fear" of Him is exactly why I am not afraid of Him.
It is this Psalm that explains what I feel most deeply:
As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we are made; he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14).He is more acquainted with my dustiness than I am. When I cry out to Him in painful circumstances--He gets it. When I look at the mess of my life and cannot for the life of me figure out how to solve it--He gets it. He gets my inadequacies and my heartaches and my fear of failing and my insecurities and my wondering how in the world this will ever get better. He gets it. He gets that I want to give up and give in because I feel so small in the face of the needs that surround me. He gets it.
And He has compassion. Even as He leads me on a path through the mess, the unresolved tension, the circumstances that demand answers I don't have and cannot give, He has compassion. Can't go around it. Can't go under it. Have to go through it. And even in the pain of walking this path that Oh God this is so hard and lonely and impossible!!!!! He has such sweet and deep compassion. Even as He insists I keep going.