My stomach dropped a little bit as I leaned back into the soft cushion of the seat. Suddenly, the ride began to slowly inch up the incline. I gripped my best friend’s hand tightly to calm my nerves, and in that moment, I regretted my decision to get on this roller coaster.
Until last summer, I had never ridden a roller coaster that went upside down. They scared me too much, but when I went to the King’s Dominion amusement park, my best friend was determined to make me conquer my fears. The good news is that this story did end happily. I rode the Dominator, my first upside down roller coaster, and I enjoyed it so much that I rode it again and then proceeded to ride almost every roller coaster in the park.
It is odd how each person has certain things they fear more than others. Mine is heights, but in this instance, I think I feared for my safety more than anything. Fear can control a person’s life when not dealt with correctly. Fear can be a bad thing, but would you be surprised if I told you fear can also be a good thing?
I know I sound crazy, but Scripture gives examples of two different kinds of fear. Bad fear is the fear of man or the fear of circumstances, but the Bible also tells us to fear the Lord, which is a proper form of fear.
The Bible challenges us to look at fear from a radical point of view. In Matthew 10:16-32 Jesus talks about the future persecution of His followers. He tells His followers not to fear persecution. I think the verse that makes me a little queasy in the stomach is verse 28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
When I read this verse I think, Wow, God. You want Your followers to be OK with being martyred? That’s pretty scary. But then I am reminded that God is the One who sent His Son to conquer death. He has control.
What Not to Fear
Whether it is circumstances or man, the Bible tells us many times not to fear. We are told not to fear an unknown future; rather, we are told to entrust our future to an all-knowing God (Psalm 23:4, Matthew 6: 25-33, Luke 12:13-21, 1 John 3:20). We are told not to fear love, but instead we are told that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We are told not to fear the approval of man, but rather to seek the Lord’s approval (Proverbs 29:25, Luke 12:8-12, Galatians 1:10, Colossians 3:23). Finally, we are also told not to fear death, as discussed in Matthew 10:16-32.
Whom to Fear
We are told several times in the Bible to fear the Lord (Genesis 42:18, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Matthew 10:28, Hebrews 12:28-29). To fear the Lord means to revere Him, be in awe of Him. Often I feel like I don’t fear God. Especially when I read Isaiah 6, which describes true fear of the Lord.
In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord sitting on His throne. When Isaiah sees the holiness of the Lord, he responds, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
How convicting it is to see Isaiah’s response, for he truly acknowledges how holy our Lord is. I have to stop and ask myself if I live like that. Every day do I think about how unworthy I am to serve a perfect God? Most of the time I do not; rather, I fear man. Sure, I think about God’s love, but do I tremble in the presence of the living God?
Think about the things you fear in life. Do you fear man and seek to win other people’s approval? Do you fear death and have trouble trusting God when it comes to illness or safety? Or do you fear loving others, because of hurt, so you shut others out? These types of fear are not from the Lord.
God is mighty enough to create the universe, send His Son to die for our sins and restore all that is broken (Genesis 1:1, John 3:16, Revelation 21:1). Therefore, we have nothing to fear, except Him. Today, I challenge you to hand your fears over to the Lord and give Him the honor He is due today and every day.