Fear. And the God Who Pulls Us Back.

4 07 2010

Just digesting Matt’s message today on Proverbs 1:7

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

I found myself asking the question, “Do I fear God?” Matt was saying that there is fear, in terms of respect, but there is also the “terrifying” aspect to God that we have either avoided or misunderstood.

Sometimes I dream of things, events, that run very contrary to my life.  For example, I will dream that I have done something that I am horrified about.  I love my husband Mike as much as I can love another human being, in my dreams this is true as well; but I have dreamed that I have betrayed the sacred bond of our friendship and the moment I have I am filled with terror over what I have done and I can see the road ahead; it is broken and sad beyond words. I see in Mike’s face everything I never want to see; I see the thing I have done to him. Why, I ask myself, why did I do that?

In real life I am pretty good-natured, but I have dreamed that I have committed a horrible crime; the second I realize that I have stepped over “that line” I am filled with terror over what I have done and all the ramifications of that choice.

When I wake up, all I feel is relief. The terror in the dream was so real, I might as well have done it; but I didn’t and I am so thankful for my real world.

When I think about fear and God, I think about what I have and I think about all I “have to lose.”  I think about life without God and I see a vast emptiness that terrifies me. I think of that aloneness. I think of that separation and I can’t get my mind around it. I think of carrying all that I am, the darkness that is my only alternative to living forgiven, and I cannot fathom that. With God, I can imagine being without Him. I see what it is like around me and I think of myself living that way.

I look at God and know I don’t deserve Him. I know that He does not need me, as if I can do some sort of service to convince Him that I am worth keeping in His circle. I see my “good deeds” and think they are works of art, but realize, in the presence of God’s majesty, they are scribbles of crayon; as if He is impressed.

God is not my neighbor. He is not next door to me, like some equal I can visit or ignore. In God’s presence, I am self-aware. I see what the Bible describes as “filthy rags” my sin and my attempts to not appear to be sinful. The fear of God’s perfection is exactly that. I can’t stand before Him and grin about my mistakes, kid around and say, “look what I did.” God has every right to say, “look at the mess you have made!”  and turn His face from me.

But I liked what Matt said this morning, the God that we “fear” has the power to save. We have all fallen off a cliff, but mid-air, without doing anything to merit such a rescue, God (out of love) pulls us back.  The God who has every right to judge us, which ought to terrify us, holds us and keeps us from destruction because of a love we don’t even have a word for.

I liked the question Matt posed, “are we uncomfortable in his grip?”  We hold our children’s hands tightly when something feels precarious, and so does God. We are in a precarious position, so God gives us the desire for God (interesting to think about). In this desire we see how perilously close we came to a lost eternity and this fear drives us towards Him, not away; and He holds us tight within boundaries for our own good.

Ecclesiastes concludes that our whole life’s purpose is to fear God and keep His commands. Yes, I get that.  If I keep a healthy fear, if I long to follow God’s ways, I will see His salvation at work in me.

As a parent, I also live in “fear”  — don’t get me wrong about the word, I don’t mean worry or anxiety — I mean “absolute seriousness”…I feel dead serious about all of this for my children.  I realize they are testing their faith and feeling the constraints of God’s grip and deciding whether they will remain in Him. I get this; and it terrifies me at the same time. Not one thing matters more to me except that they will respond to God, fear Him, follow Him with passion. I want them to understand their precarious position as well and feel the grip of His hand on them, keeping them from falling.

God, may it be so.

— Teresa Klassen

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