What kind of fears have you experienced in your life?
It's a really vulnerable question.
I remember taking a daladala to the city by myself, when we lived in Tanzania, on my way to a woman’s conference. These vehicles drive at crazy speeds, and are usually packed past the limit with people and occasionally some livestock. On this particular trip, at one of the stops, two police officers climbed on with a man in handcuffs, who looked quite disheveled, and had very dark, suspecting eyes. I avoided eye contact, and hid face behind my head covering, lest he notice this very white skinned face glaring out in the midst of the crowd. After we passed through two more towns, the officers hopped out, with their man, and I breathed a sigh of relief – not sure exactly why, I just felt the exposure of being different.
As the vehicle sped along past serene valleys, palm trees, and crowds of people, a large noise shattered the calm, jerking to the side with cries of panic resounding. The vehicle had blown a tire and by the grace of God, we were still upright and came to a stop at the side of the road.
In those few hours, my little adventure had evoked quite variety of contrasting fears.
I felt fear when a snake dropped out of a tree right in front of my feet, on the African dust. I’ve experienced fear as my 6 month old lay paralyzed in the ICU, and they told me they had done all they could do. I’ve felt the fear of failure, the fear of being disliked, the fear of not fitting in; fear that things won’t change, that a relationship will be broken, and that God may not answer my prayers.
It’s a lot of fear.
Perhaps, like me, you're familiar with that feeling of fear.
In Christina Fox’s upcoming release, “A Holy Fear: Trading Lesser Fears For the Fear of the Lord,” she takes us on a journey to recognize our fears for what they are, to discover what it means to fear the Lord, and how to live with a rightly oriented fear.
Here’s what she has to say.
Scripture talks about a few specific kinds of fear:
The fear of man, either fear because of what they will do to us, or what they think of us.
The fear of harm, also known as natural fear, like the disciples in the boat when a storm hit.
The fear of the future, the uncertainty of what could happen, and all the “what if” scenarios.
“The Bible doesn’t teach that we are to not have any cares or worries at all…It’s when those cares become excessive to the point that we don’t trust God for tomorrow’s needs, that our worries and fears become sinful.”
When talking about the fear of God, she contrasts two different kinds of fear: filial fear, and servile fear. Servile fear is “like the fear slaves have for their cruel master or that of prisoners for their jailer,” this would be doing things because we are afraid of harm if we don’t. Then we have filial fear, which is the type of fear children have for their father, it is motivated not by terror, but love.
So, outside of Christ our fear of God would be a servile fear, but when we are in Christ, we are adopted as His children and are invited to a filial fear of Him. This type of fear encompasses awe and wonder, reverence, worship, love and adoration. God has loved us with an extravagant and everlasting love, and we return that love with a holy fear of who He is. As we learn to recognize His goodness, sovereignty, His love and holiness, our understanding of Him grows. We begin to see all that God has done for us in the Gospel, we learn that we can trust Him.
Beginning to grow in our fear of the Lord means adjusting “the posture of your heart in the face of life’s fearful situations,” by applying gospel truths to our lives, immersing ourselves in the spiritual disciplines of reading and studying the word, prayer and worship. It means we participate actively in our sanctification, putting off idolatry, self-righteousness and the things of this world.
See, as we pursue growth in our knowledge of God, gaining ground in who He is making us to be, God promises us that the fruit will come; our wisdom will grow, our obedience solidifies, trust deepens and humility rises. Spending time with Him requires our effort, but it is returned to us in the fruit that He promises us, and although we will continue to face fears in this life, of a vast and wide variety, we know that His promises toward us will stand, and our fear of Him will grow.
The topic of fear is an important word for us today. If we’re totally honest, anxieties are present, worry trickles in and our identities are somewhat shaken. For some of us, this may have never been a struggle, but this year of 2020 is challenging all of us. Christina's book is a timely reminder, that in spite our fears, we can trade them, in Christ, for a holy fear of the one, true God.
We remember that, “our fears can govern our choices, shape the direction of our days, and rule over our hearts.” Trading our fears means we choose to respond different.
What will you chose to fear?
*I received a free copy of this book as part of the launch team, so a big thanks to the publisher for copy and the opportunity to post an honest review.
**Pre-order a copy now at Amazon, the release date is November 20, 2020.