I spend a fair amount of time advising my boys not to fear things: outside noises at night, vaccinations, terrorism, etc. Though the objects of their fear vary, my approach is usually the same. We talk about the sovereignty of God and how He, in His infinite power, controls all things. Because God is good, we can find comfort in His providence and not fear things that might hurt us. Andy and I can and do provide cuddles, but God is the only One who can relieve them of this type of fear.
Though I spend a fair amount of time talking with the boys about what not to fear, I am far less diligent about discussing Whom they should fear. The Scriptures are filled with references to what we should not fear (man, death, etc.). They are also filled, though, with admonitions to fear God. When I think about the fear of God, my mind first races to our worship song “We Choose the Fear of the Lord” and then to the passage in Proverbs: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov.1:7a). This passage tells me that, if I desire to be wise, I need to fear God. If I desire to please Him in my role as wife and mother, I need a proper fear of God. I cannot teach the boys this fear without knowing it and living it myself. But to live with a biblical fear of God, I need to understand what this looks like.
To try to understand how the fear of God is fleshed out, I think about Genesis 22, where God commends Abraham for being willing to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. As Abraham raised his knife to kill Isaac, the angel of the LORD called out to him, and said “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Gen 22.12). Isaac was Abraham’s promised child, from whom God planned to grow Abraham’s descendants into a nation. Abraham had waited for decades for this child, and he loved him dearly. Yet, he reverenced and trusted God so completely that he was willing to kill this precious child, knowing that God would be faithful to His promises. This is the fear of God: placing His will for my life above my own. It is loving and honoring Him above my comfort, my family, and my own life. I do not fear God as I ought—Lord, please forgive me.
LORD God, You are awesome and mighty and worthy of reverence and honor. Forgive me for often fearing man more than I fear You, and for treasuring my comfort and my family more than I treasure obedience. As I seek to follow You, God, please help me to humble myself so my will is that Your will is done. Please help me to trust You with my husband and children and to remember that You are always faithful and that You cannot lie. Help me to fear You rather than man and to teach my children about Your majesty and magnificence, about the need to worship You and to pursue You above all else. Please open their eyes and change their hearts so that they might fear You.