I remember when I was a wee kid, probably about 2, I went with my mum to college. She would be upstairs in a class. And I would be downstairs in the child day care room. One time, I was the only one at the end of the class, and my mum was still upstairs. So the teacher took me upstairs. My mum was talking to a scary-looking man. She introduced me to him. And I remember hiding behind my mum’s leg while the man remarks “Isn’t she shy!” I remember that was my first ever feeling of being scared. Shy? I don’t think so. On one hand there was a scary man, on the other hand, I was seeking comfort from the security of my mum. It was the first feeling of fear in my life.
I remember when I was about 3 or 4, of course, I was very attached to my mum. And I was that screaming kid with separation anxiety disorder. (Turns out I had this from when I was a baby according to my mum’s friends). Well there was one time my mum had to nip out to the garage to get some things stored away, and I wanted to go with her, but she wouldn’t let me. And then I cried as any kid who doesn’t want to be away from mummy would. And my dad who was taking his afternoon nap upstairs having come home for his break from work, stormed downstairs and started yelling. I remember crouching down on the floor, in the corner of the kitchen, trembling with fear, with an angry dad towering over me. My dad had never shouted at me before. And it was scary.
I remember one time in year 4 of primary school education. I was messing around during the class time. We were meant to be doing our maths work. The boys egged me to try it. So I did. I copied them by leaning back on my chair, lifting up the two legs, balancing on the hind legs and rocked the chair, while still sat on it, in back and forth motion. And then I lost my balance. And fell backwards. And then the teacher looked up, saw that I had fallen. Ordered me to get up. And yes. I had a massive telling off. Fear? Yes of course I feared her.
And then I remember when I was growing up as a teen, I had this youth leader who would always be wearing his “NO FEAR” cap, coupled with his “NO FEAR” hoody. It had these scary eyes under the words, I always thought the juxtaposition of the two of them was somewhat strange. The eyes looked scary, yet the words told me to have no fear. I never really understood that concept.
So as you can see, there are ample stories of how I use to fear. I could go on. All the way up to recent years. I am, after all, a very fearful person. I am a scaredy cat. Although I grew up watching a lot of scary films. I’ve always told myself these are fake. But when it comes to scary people in real life-I know they are anything but fake. It wasn’t until I got to Birmingham when I realised I had a serious issue with fearing certain individuals, as I felt they projected an element of mystery or coldness. I realised after God worked my way through it, I would naturally be scared and would fear the worse before something or someone would start shouting. Don’t mistake me, people weren’t going to shout. I just put up a defence in preparation of them shouting. Of them tutting. Of them exerting their authority over me. My past had shaped me into a fearful person.
I wasn’t aware of this until God slowly and surely showed me and worked me through these issues. I learnt to forgive the people in my past, the people that shouted at me, my old teachers at school, certain individuals, my family, and especially my dad. I learnt that the past is in the past. I learnt that people used to tell me off for my gain, for my good, to help train me up to becoming better. I learnt that it was important not to let this fear become an unhealthy fixation on the negative. And I learnt that the cross was the best place to put that fear, and trade it in for something better. A fear of the Lord.
During the next couple of months I never really understood the concept. But God and I were working through it together. He highlighted how there’s no point in me fearing people. Fear Him instead. And then the lead up to bible school, that summer alone, God kept telling me to fear Him. It happened through repeated bible verses that kept popping up. It happened when God would remind me of his goodness in the past, how He protects me, like that time when I nearly crashed on the road. Or that time he comforted me when I was walking through a scary road of crematoriums late at night by myself. He reminded me that He will never leave me nor forsake me. And that I have nothing to fear. And as soon as I started bible school, the first thing they taught on was FEARING GOD. Particularly looking at how Isaiah had an angel anoint his lips with burning coals. How scary is that. But then, we’re told to fear not afterwards.
Having a fear of God is both submitting and being in reverent awe of Him. It’s trembling when you realise God is speaking directly at you, so you better to listen up. It’s thinking about the final judgement and being scared, but then relieved because you know full well your name is written in His book. It’s knowing that He is so amazing, He is big and I am small, but yet he still goes and pays attentions to the small minute details of my life. It’s worshipping Him and submitting to Him, being in awe of how magnificent He is.
And whenever I am scared of individuals or situations nowadays, I’m always reminded to trade it at the cross for the fear of the Lord, as perfect love casts out fear. I can’t explain it. So I’ll pray that you, reader, will experience what it means to fear God.