There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 CEB
I love taking my grandchildren for a walk to the playground a few blocks from their house. They bounce along, chattering excitedly, anticipating the swings, slide and merry-go-round. But when we reach the corner where we have to cross the street, fear grips my heart. What if one of them runs out into traffic?
So with a stern voice I bark out the commands, “Hold my hands. Look both ways. Now we can cross.” This is a healthy fear on my part because I understand the danger of carelessly crossing the road and I want my grandchildren to understand it too.
But what of the fears in a young child’s heart as they cower under their beds listening to their parents fight because of too much alcohol? Or the fear of something scary or hurtful happening because a child is “bad.” These fears may cause a child to close themselves off to love or to work extra hard to earn it, because they feel unlovable or worthless.
Scripture teaches us to “fear” the Lord, meaning to respect His power and to experience awe or reverence in His presence – much like going before a powerful judge or king. After all, he created the universe and has all power and all knowledge.
But if we learn to fear God as children through harsh life experiences or frightening interactions with people who should love us, we end up trying to flee from his presence or to resist his love for us.
Do you experience feelings of inadequacy before God, trying to work harder to be good enough or worthy in His presence? Or have you tried to run from him, insisting there is no God or deciding He doesn’t care about you?
Lord, help me to have a healthy respect for your power. Heal my heart so I may have enough confidence in your love to come boldly before you with my needs and desires, knowing you will hear and answer me. Amen!