Several years ago, I went to the doctor for a checkup. I’d been feeling poorly for a while—tired, blue, and lethargic. I knew I needed to lose weight and return to exercising. However, sitting in that sterile medical room, across from a serious-looking doctor, my predicament finally sank in. My cholesterol was high, and my weight was out of control. I needed to change . . . or else. The dire possibilities scared me. Thankfully, I changed directions. But it took fear over my lifestyle’s consequences for me to find the courage to make the hard choices.
The prophet Isaiah had to confront Israel’s idolatry. The people, however, chose not to listen. They had too many competing concerns. They were concerned for their economic welfare and social status. They were fretful about their political enemies and fortunes. Israel abandoned God because fear gobbled up all their energy. To this, God simply said, “Don’t live in dread of what frightens them” (Isaiah 8:12). Rather, God suggested, “[The Lord] is the one you should fear” (Isaiah 8:13).
Our fears can’t dissipate on their own; something greater must overwhelm them. Scripture offers at least two things that overwhelm fear: God’s love for us (1 John 4:18) and our fear of God (Isaiah 8:13). Of course, fearing God is entirely different from every other fear we know. To fear God is not cowering in the corner like a petrified child hiding from an abusive parent. God isn’t abusive.
To fear God is to tremble at the truth that God is entirely holy and all-powerful and that everything (fears included) bow before this Mighty One. There’s freedom in knowing that when we fear (bow before, reverence, honor) God, we need not fear anything else. The God who is strong enough to make us quake is the one who tenderly comforts us with His love.
How could you misinterpret the idea of fearing God? In what other areas of life has fear helped you?
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”