I’m often told that God is incredibly loving and extraordinarily gentle. While I completely agree with this sentiment, I can’t help but feel that there’s a part of Him that’s forgotten. It wasn’t until a recent experience that I was reminded of what I believe might be the part of Him that’s so frequently overlooked.
A few nights ago there was a thunderstorm unlike any I’ve encountered before. I’ve never had a fear for thunder or lightning, and frankly I’ve always found storms soothing and therapeutic. This storm in particular was completely different. I was awoken by the loud noise of violent rain and for a while I wasn’t able to identify it as such. It took a crack of lightning and a roar of thunder for me to realize that there was a thunderstorm underway. Instead of falling back asleep, however, I was filled with indescribable fear. It was a fear that left me weak and paralyzed. What I realized later was that what I was fearful of had nothing to do with the condition of the weather, it had to do with my God. I wasn’t afraid of the thunder. I was afraid the wrath I felt within the thunder. My immediate response was to seek Him and so I started praying. Only after doing so did my fear dissipate. I felt that the Lord was angry, and I was reminded that while He possesses immeasurable warmth, He too can demonstrate dissatisfaction. It’s clear God is unhappy with us and our sins on a large scale, but while I say this, it isn’t at all to mean that God doesn’t love us. He does, more deeply and more profoundly than any love we are capable of understanding; and it’s precisely this fervent love that He forgives us.
It’s been curious to me that I rarely hear about this side of the Lord being taught. In Proverbs 1:7 it states that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” and a variation of this is repeated in Psalms 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” I may not be entirely accurate in my interpretation, but to me fear comes with strength. I truly believe in the power of the Lord, and that is precisely why I fear him. I acknowledge His sovereignty and am instilled with a sense of fear in response. Psalms 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” When I read about people standing in awe, I imagine something incredibly wonderful unfolding and presented in front of them. Something beyond ourselves that will compel us to react in awestricken astonishment.
I don’t see fearing Him as something bad, nor do I see His more assertive nature as such either. I’m still trying to learn and understand Him and His intentions as a juvenile Christian, but I know
that this fear I feel is anything but bad. It’s a fear that guides me; that prevents me from doing bad and compels me to do good. It’s a guidance force that leads me to give glory to Him, and that steers me towards the path He has prepared. What I felt that night was His presence. It was His presence that was so powerful, so impressing, that I was reduced to a state of inexplicable fear - but it was also His presence that drove me seek Him when I might not otherwise have. I’ve felt myself find strength and comfort through Him before, but this experience has reminded me that He is just as powerful as He is loving, and the two things combined are what make Him such an amazing Father.