Fear? You might think it is a dream come true to parent six children and that every day is filled with joy and splendor. I would have to agree with that. But then “day” turns into “evening” and the clock hits midnight, the glass slipper drops and it is time to go to bed. That was not the case for my six dear children growing up. They were always (and still are) a communicative bunch. But, after a long day of raising them, my wife Annika and I were ready for a break in the evening. Putting the little tykes to bed, getting six little faces washed, six mouths full of teeth (to varying degrees) brushed, six glasses of water, several bedtime stories, prayers and “goodnights” left us exhausted. We would have been content in our recovery but, invariably, two or more of our children would get out of bed and catch a second wind, ready for nighttime adventure. After a few weeks of this, I needed a plan. My plan was to be the Dad that injected a healthy dose of fear into the lives of my children. So, after I heard some stirring upstairs I would exclaim, “The Sheriff’s coming, and he wants all kids in bed!” Well, the first few times I actually had to go up there. They scattered back into their beds as little items from Polly Pockets dolls went flying. Eventually, I did not even have to go upstairs, the voice of the “Sheriff” was all they needed to hear.
When I was growing up I only feared God. I did not understand that God had called me to Him out of love but I recognized that He could crush me like a grape, if He desired. Solomon, given great discernment by God, summed up the Book of Ecclesiastes by saying, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecc. 12:13).” Does God really want us to be afraid of Him? In my experience of seeking God and His will since 1987 I have found that LOVE is God’s primary interest. In offering love, however, God wants us to accept nothing LESS than His perfect love. Well, to understand the extent of God’s love we must look at what we are being saved from–Death, Hell, Pain. These are not pleasant, but we must understand that “except for the grace of God, I’m headed for all three.” The solution? Jesus, yes! But we cannot have Jesus -the loving, “let the children come to me Jesus” without the “I have bled, been scourged, and died on the cross for your sins” Jesus.
We should fear God because we have reverence for Him. He is not our peer just like I am not a “buddy” to my children. Maybe God loves us so much that He included “fear” as a necessary element. The bible says,”It is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).” Without any fear at all we may not have any inclination to come to God in the first place or we may be content to say, “You know I’ll come to God eventually, but right now it’s me time.” I know a good friend who heard a sermon preached on the fear of God and the preacher said, “You may think that you have all the time in the world, but just yesterday someone was killed crossing Washington St. right here by the church. That person could not predict they would lose their life yesterday and neither can you.” My friend accepted Christ that day.
As sinful people we have every reason to fear God’s judgement. God does not instill this fear in us because he is a tired Dad (like I was) and wants to keep us in line. He deeply wants to be reconciled to us. He loves you. He absolutely loves you.