June 25, 2009

Beautiful Fear

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 9:55 am by Tamara

I’ve always been intrigued and a bit perplexed by the concept of fearing God. It’s all over the Bible, but…I don’t really get it. How to I balance fear with His love, grace, etc, and what does it look like PRACTICALLY to keep a healthy fear of God in my mind?

A few nights ago we had an awe-inspiring thunderstorm. Brilliant sparks of lightning flashed across the stars in tandem with ground-shaking crashes of thunder. I like thunderstorms; the combination of terrific force and equal beauty entrances me. And I don’t feel afraid watching them while safe in my house, cuddled on a soft bed in the cool of the night.

I read a quote by John Piper the other day that painted a beautiful picture of the fear of God. (Granted, I have more than a few problems with Piper’s theology, but I loved this quote.) He starts out saying to imagine that you’re on a glacier when a storm sets in that you’re afraid might blow you off the cliff:

“But in the midst of the storm you discover a cleft in the ice where you can hide. Here you feel secure. But, even though secure, the awesome might of the storm rages on, and you watch it with a kind of trembling pleasure as it surges out across the distant glaciers, Not everything we call fear vanishes from your heart, only the life-threatening part. There remains the trembling, the awe, the wonder, the feeling that you would never want to tangle with such a storm or be the adversary of such a power.
“And so it is with God. The fear of God is what is left of the storm when you have a safe place to watch right in the middle of it. Hope turns fear into a trembling and peaceful wonder; and fear takes everything trivial out of hope and makes it earnest and profound.” (Piper, John, quoted in Holy Available , p 148 by Gary Thomas, [emphasis mine])

What a vivid picture of the fear of God. My fear of thunderstorms is a beautiful fear, a recognition of their power but a feeling of safety because that power isn’t against me or going to hurt me.

I think I need to take God more seriously. Fearing Him requires really knowing Him deeply enough to recognize what He’s capable of, what He deserves, what I deserve. It would undoubtedly effect my obedience. What is my sin, if not a statement that I really think I know better that God? But the more I combine a realization of all God is (which should create a healthy dose of fear if I’m honest) with the hope He’s given me because of His grace, the more I’ll take His commands seriously and trust Him that He really does know best.

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