In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:26-27, ESV)
It took me a year. But I finally found the verses I will pray over my son. I have thought a lot about his life and all that may lay before him. Today is his birthday. And my mind has been flooded with all the memories of this past year. But, I also realize that now is the time to start teaching him and shaping him for the roads ahead. But where to start? Solomon gives me a good place to start. Fear.
If I do not shape the contours of his fear, the world will do it for me. The question when it comes to fear is not should our kids have fears, but what kinds of fear. The world will tell us to have no fear (remember all those “No Fear” t-shirts?). The world calls fear unnecessary. So they create conferences and write books and produce podcasts all about conquering your fears. But this is all posturing and lies. Man was made for fear. But the problem for most is not that they fear too much, but that they fear too little. Their lives are marked by constant fear of a thousand petty things. And they are immobilized and fretful. They are weak, cowardly and foolish. And the solution is not less fear but greater fear.
I think some people get this. They look around and understand they should be more scared than they are on a daily basis. So they create stories meant to scare. Vampires, werewolves, aliens, serial killers and the boogeyman, oh my! The horror genre exists to scare us, to help us feel fear. They seem to intuitively know that their daily fears are too small, too insignificant.
God is the greatest reality in the universe. He is the greatest power. He spoke and stuff appeared, ex nihilo. Our hearts beat and our lungs fill with air because He is speaking. And since He is the greatest power, He deserves our greatest fear. And as counter-intuitive as it may sound, if we would only fear a bigger fear, we would find freedom from the petty fears that plague our lives. We would be transformed from cowardly to bold. We would leave the path of folly and walk in wisdom.
How does this work? Why does the fear of the LORD lead to wisdom? Because the fear of the LORD puts us on the path to embracing the Gospel. When we see God in all His glory, we see our sin. We realize that we cannot stand before pure holiness. We need a mediator or we risk drinking the wrath of God to the dregs. We find that mediator in Jesus of Nazareth. When we trust in Jesus and are united by faith to Him, we have then been united to the Father. The greatest power in the universe now holds us in His hands. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, ESV) Paul asks rhetorically. Do you see the freedom in this? Nothing can touch you when God is in your corner. This does not mean that you will not experience pain or difficulty in life. But it does mean that the end of the story is good for you. It means life and not death. But first we must lay aside our petty fears.
So fear boldly. Fear the One who speaks dragons into existence and fear not the dragons. For the dragons can only kill you. This is what I will teach my son. It’s the only wise thing I can do.