Faith and hope in God, love for God and fear of God. These are a child’s most powerful assets and defenses in a world of darkness, and can continue to be their most powerful assets and weapons against an often cold and unforgiving world when they become adults, and we may be slowly destroying them.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10, Job 28:28
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 1:7
When I was a child I feared God. I understood His power, His might and His sovereignty enough to have reverence for Him. I was never scared of Him, I just understood that His power and sovereignty are absolute and that I must respect that.
Unfortunately I have found that our culture has made having fear and being scared into the same thing. Are we perhaps teaching children to fear anything but God? If so, why? Is it because we want to teach children about His compassion, grace, mercy and love, and we think that teaching them to fear Him will contradict all that?
Well, it won’t. His wrath does not contradict His compassion, His righteousness does not contradict his grace, His justice does not contradict His mercy, and His power and sovereignty do not contradict His love. If He has compassion on all that He has made (Psalm 145:9) but Has no wrath, then His character would indeed contradict itself in the face of theft, false witness, adultery, rape, murder, etc. Sins that have victims. His grace is directly tied to His righteousness. He gives us the free gift of eternal life – which we could never earn – because he wants us to be right with Him. Mercy is irrelevant if justice is not first an option. He is sovereign in His never changing love. His sovereignty is altogether powerful and his power is altogether sovereign in His never changing love.
As a child I feared God, but I was never really scared of anything. Many of the stories that my parents tell from my child hood speak of a child who is curious, adventurous, self-assured, outgoing, compassionate, determined (often stubborn), loving, sweet and… unafraid. Like when I was still small enough to get under the fence, I would scrape my back as I squeezed under it so that I could get out of the yard and explore the world around me.
When I was three or four years old I was running around the back of the church after the service, and I ran into a glass table which cut my forehead. The cut was so deep that I needed stitches, so my mom took me to the emergency room. While the doctor was trying to put stitches in I was flailing around like mad, and two nurses had to hold me down. When the doctor finally finished up and the nurses were about to let go, my mother told them that they might want to step back once they do. According to my mother, the nurses looked at her like she was some sort of a monster. You see, the nurses thought I was struggling so much because I was scared, but my mother know me better than that. The nurses let go of me and I promptly jumped to my feet, put up my dukes and declared “You bad!!!” My mother then quickly picked me up, thanked the doctor and nurses, and left the room.
My fear of God never made me feel small and insignificant. I think it did quite the opposite. It made me feel big and important, because I knew that the God of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the almighty and all-powerful one had a special place for me in His Kingdom, and in His heart. When I was maybe 2 years old I would stand on the chair in the living room, put my hands in the air, and yell “Sooo big!” My parents have pictures of me doing that. I’m pretty sure that no one ever told me of my significance in my Heavenly Father’s eyes, and if they did I probably wouldn’t have understood. I just knew it, because I already knew God, and I feared Him.
So, why are we teaching children to be afraid? Why do we glorify and glamorize fear of anything but God on occasions like Halloween? Why do we make a fun and exciting experience for children out of being scared of zombies, vampires, ghosts, goblins and the like? Are we trying to make them feel good about being scared of freaky things so that they’ll stay away from unsavoury situations in real life?
Is it perhaps that we fear man, creatures and circumstances so much more than we fear God that we would sooner protect children by teaching them to be scared, then by asking God to protect them when we can’t? Do we perhaps have so little respect for Christ’s authority that we do not bother to teach children that all authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to him (Matthew 28:18), and that what they need most is to trust him in their darkest times?
I feared God when I was a child, and in the times of hurt and confusion I was never afraid. I saw the world around me and never cowered away from it. I knew that God was with me, and that His power and sovereignty are absolute. I’m certainly glad the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, because God did eventually temper my youthful zeal with heavenly wisdom so that I did not go running off into unfamiliar situations unless God gave me permission to. …Usually.
Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂 God bless you.