"But I can't go to bed!!! I'm WAY too scared!" 7-year-old me shrieked to my dad one night.
"What are you afraid of?" He gently asked.
"EVERYTHING, but especially bad guys!"
And it was true. Darkness, ghosts, dogs, creaks in the night, the pictures hanging on the wall all haunted me, but the biggest of all these fears was the "bad guys."
I was so convinced somebody was going to break into our farm house at night and get me. What exactly "getting me" meant, I'm not quite sure. Was I afraid of someone killing me? Kidnapping me? Just creeping on me and staring at me in the darkness? I have no clue as I never made it past the fear of hypothetical bad guys which haunted me well into my adulthood.
My dad, a towering, intimidating bulk of a man leaned down and gently responded to my irrational fears.
"Leah, there is nobody bigger or stronger than me in all of Stearns County. The bad guy will have to pass by me to get to you. You have nothing to worry about."
And with that, I gave him a big smile and hurried up to bed, feeling assured and safe in his promise to protect me as I snuggled deep into the blankets.
When I used to ponder Fear of the Lord, one of the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit, I would think of true fear, my constant companion throughout much of my life. Be afraid of hell? Easy.
This fear dominated my high school years. I was obedient to the church teachings because of this. It was also about this time that I read my first book on spiritual warfare and was paranoid about the demons that I could almost picture flapping above my head.
Being afraid of disappointing God was another fear, which led to an almost paralyzing and mechanical spiritual OCD. This fear dominated my college years and the first handful of my first years of marriage. It still likes to creep into my heart, but being conscious of it helps me to battle this lie.
Here is a little secret that I discovered- the word fear in the context of the gift of Fear of the Lord is a bit of a misnomer.
The Holy Spirit doesn't bestow a quaking fear, prompting us to be scared of God Almighty! He also doesn't wave a magic wand and bestow upon us the "gift" of frightening us into submission.
No. God is the giver of all good things. The gift of Fear of the Lord leads us to love Him deeper. It is a source of great peace and happiness.
How joyful are those who fear the Lord. Psalm 112:1
This "fear" is a call to deeper respect, reverence and sense of awe for God's power and authority. It's recognizing who we are in relation to the creator of the universe, yet not drawing away from Him.
The God that we fear is the God who casts out fear.
This week, I encourage you to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to give you more fear of the Lord.
"Holy Spirit, breath of the Living God, pour out Your gift of Fear of the Lord into my soul that I may love you more completely. Amen."
Until next time, you sister in Christ,