Today, I want to continue looking at the often misunderstood subject of the fear of God. My concern when using this phrase is that it evokes an unhealthy view of a distant deity who is too great and mighty to care about the lives of seemingly insignificant people. However, my goal is to convince you that your perception of the Lord’s power depends on your position in His presence. Because I love etymology, I often study the root meaning of words, and it’s interesting to note that “awe” is the root of both “awesome” and “awful.” While we don’t typically think of these two terms as being related, they’re more closely connected than we realize. To give you an example, when I go to Yosemite and I look up at the face of El Capitan, I can say without hesitation that it’s awesome to behold. But if I’m a rock climber working my way up the side of the mountain and my fingers get tired and shaky, it becomes awful. The difference is my relationship to the thing that I’m in awe of, and this is exactly what the fear of the Lord implies. You see, if I’m right with God, although I stand in awe of His greatness and understand that He is not to be tested, I behold Him as awesome. On the other hand, if I haven’t come into a relationship with Jesus and am still by nature an object of His wrath (Romans 9:22), His unlimited power makes Him awful. Thankfully, He is not willing that any should perish, and He invites everyone to receive His Son so they can be made righteous in His sight and live from a place of peace in His presence. Only when this exchange is made will the fear of the Lord go from being awful to awesome.
My friend, it’s good to be in awe of God, but it’s best to be at peace in His presence so you can perceive His power as awesome. This is only possible through having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you never have, I encourage you to open your heart to Him today: invite Him to forgive your sins, make you new on the inside, and take up residence in every area of your life. Then, as you yield your heart to His good plan, He will flood your soul with the serenity that comes from being in right standing with Him and teach you to fear Him from a place of respect rather than fright. As you revere His holiness, you will inherit a life-changing power that increases as you submit to His strength and learn to walk every day in His rest.