[I’ve had this subject on the brain for a number of days now. I love to look at words and language, particularly how language use changes over time. Mama Squirrel has a good set of links in a post about words, Interesting Links found here, and her response to those links found here . ]
Growing up on the Mission field I have often heard of this phrase. It was something we talked about yet never in a daily application kind of way. We would talk about how this was our motivation at times, and yet our focus was definitely more on the love and forgiveness that Christ offers and how the love acted as our motivation to live a life “anew.”
My recent post about how our family was led to home schooling led me to think about how my fears motivated me to big change in my life. How fear was the one thing that helped me get out of a Pit of Despair [okay, I love The Princess Bride] and move onto becoming much more like the person I wished to emulate for my children.
The fear that I might loose my children, whether accurate or not, was the thing that saw me forcing myself into action when simply nothing else I tried would.
The fears I experienced allowed me to do things that I had previously found crippling. For example, we had been “blessed,” in the “cursed” sense of the word, with too many cast-off possessions of our family members. Not only were we gifted with these treasures of with lots of “good life” left in them, we were told very clearly by an important member of the family that if we got rid of them, she would be extremely upset/angry. What was worse was the fact that we repeatedly asked not to be so blessed and this individual felt that they didn’t have to listen to our requests and gifted us despite our repeated attempts to stop her gifts!
Up until motivated by my “big fear” I felt powerless to do anything other than talk to this person. But once I felt enough fear, I found myself able to fill 6 dumpster loads full of these gifts, not to mention the trips to the second-hand stores.
And yes, fear is what gave me the steel when I did have to sit there and listen to this persons angry tirade at my ingratitude. Fear gave me great courage and I found, it gave me motivation too!
The thing that struck me as I thought back on this time in my life for that entry, was the fact that prior to that turning point, I had many of the feelings that contributed to my fear. The fear didn’t develop overnight. Prior to the day that I called it fear, I called it worry and stress. I felt stressed first. Stress fed into worry, and worry led to fear. If I had been able to identify my fear at the point when it was stress, I likely would not have let things get as bad as they did.
It also struck me that the thing that motivates me today isn’t fear that my children would get taken away, in fact I really doubt that would ever happen or that it would have even happened then, it is fear that I might get that depressed again. It seems that when things start to feel like they are getting out of control or just not done, in the case of things around the house, it is my fear that I will get sucked “into the Pit” that motivates me to get things done around the house!
Now here is the funny and ironic thing. I find that I actually appreciate and like experiencing those moments of fear. I find I am not afraid of experiencing this fear of back-sliding. Instead, in the moment that I feel that way I recognize the emotion for what it is and do something about it. Usually I only get to the fear because I have, once again, ignored how the situation was giving me stress and how it worried at my soul.
So as the thoughts have been rolling around in my head these past few days, it struck me that perhaps that is a good understanding for the Fear of the Lord. It isn’t about hell-fire and damnation. It is a good fear. I know I was told before by my parents that it was meant as a good fear, but I never understood how that could be true.
It isn’t about how fear causes us to do things, as in the case when I first experienced my fear of loosing my children. Although it isn’t terrible if the Fear of the Lord is experienced in that way once or twice a life-time. No, I think the Fear of the Lord is meant to be that moment when we realize that perhaps we have been lax. We’ve missed the warning signs or stress when ignoring God’s hand in our lives. We’ve gone past the point of asking and questioning and into sometimes doubt. And then we are reminded of the Fear of a Life without Him. There is the realization that then we truly would fear the Wrath of the Lord. At that point, is not a little fear a welcome emotion? Especially when it turns us back to Him?