When I watch my two year old Charlie enjoy life, it always makes me a bit emotional, because he usually has no fear. He doesn’t know the fear of death, the curve balls of life, and fighting and war. What a beautiful thought to live like a child and not have any fear. To live uninhibited from the slavery of the fear, because if we are honest fear can be paralyzing. Last week I sat with a friend who shared with me some of her fears. While she was sharing, all I could think was I know exactly how she is feeling, I can’t offer her any words because I feel the same way. My fears are different than hers, but they are fears.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love
1 John 4:18
1 John 4:18
1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out fears, but as I just listened to my friend in a way I wanted to validate her fears. In my own head I can imagine some pretty bad outcomes, and those outcomes should give us fear of the future. Not to mention we live in a scary world, and by the day it seems that there is more and more to be fearful of. ISIS, rumors of war, death, So why not validate fears? Because the only thing that God tells us to be fearful of is Himself. Really. It seems so confusing.
If He is a loving God, why does He tell us to fear Him?
The answer to the question above is because He is speaking of a different kind of fear. 1 John 4:18 and Romans 8:15, use the word phobos for fear which is like a slavish fear, a fear that keeps you paralyzed. If you are like me you have felt this kind of fear before. You can read about some of that in “Taking Ruth’s Lead”. However, this is not the kind of fear that God wants us to have of Him. When referring to fear of the Lord, the word “fear” has a positive context. The Hebrew verb yare can mean “to fear, to respect, to reverence (have deep respect for someone)” and the Hebrew noun yirah refers to the fear, deep respect of God and again is viewed positively, this is probably because that “fear” is produced by His faithfulness and character, and when someone encounters who He is it makes a person more receptive to receive His wisdom and knowledge.
Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
What should we fear? God. As we grow in the fear of Him, we grow in His perfect love. I am by no means perfect at fearing Him. Honestly, too often I have to remind myself to remind myself of who He is, and that His love is truly perfect. That is the truth that will eliminate my fears. This week I was a little under the weather. One day I had such bad acid re-flux that I could barely eat, and the next day I couldn’t keep anything down. Of course the scarce thoughts of fear that went through my mind were my baby needs food and water to grow. What happens if this keeps going on? In reality I know that if it did get worse I would call the doctor and they would suggest something, but those were definitely a few scarce fears.
I started off this post saying how beautiful the thought of living with no fear. Recently Charlie began to sing phrase “there is power in the name of Jesus” (in his broken singing, but he was definitely singing it) when he would hear it on the radio, and when he sings he sings with all he has. The song goes on to say “to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain”. I bet one of the “chains” that they were referring to when they wrote the song was fear. This morning we went to the water park at the beach. Charlie used to hate the sprinklers. But today Charlie just ran and ran through be sprinklers with a huge smile on his face, full of joy and no fear. His actions were contagious. People would stop and watch him, smiling and laughing almost as if they wanted join in his joy. What if we all lived more like Charlie and lived our lives with all that we had focused on fearing and deeply respecting our God, and living free from the slavery of the fear that paralyzes us? Can you imagine what that would look like? Try picturing it. Spiritually playing in those leaves, taking a bubble bath and playing in the bubbles, eating that ice cream cone cupcake, going swimming with all of your clothes on,swinging in mom and dads arms, and running through those sprinklers. Freedom. Living. And because of the way we live, people would notice and want to have the joy we have.
Unvalidating your fear will lead to a life of spiritual freedom in perfect love. Living in freedom and deepening your respect for our God can be grown from a grateful heart. Would you join me in beginning a 30 day gratefulness challenge? Take time over the next 30 days to focus on the goodness and character of God. A couple weeks ago in “If I Only Had A Brain” I had suggested keeping a prayer journal, this would be a great place for you write down your gratefulness for who God is. I had also suggested creating a “faithfulness jar”, this is also another great place to each day write down your gratefulness to God. However you choose, as you focus on the gratefulness you have of His perfect love, watch your fear and respect for Him deepen and your fears drift away.