Like many people, there are decisions that I have made in my life that I don’t necessarily like. These are decisions that I have made based more out of fear than based on wisdom. With every poor decision based on fear, my confidence in decision making dwindled to the point that I became fearful to make decisions. Even as I “grew out” of this fear, there was still the fear of going back to a life of fear that was present. It wasn’t until I started to understand living in the fear of the Lord that I was able to completely let that go.
Just like almost anyone else, I had a fear of not being liked as I was growing up. I wanted to be liked and since I wasn’t in the popular crowd, I became a people pleaser instead. Although I was able to fit in wherever in any kind of group, it was more because I would change to that group’s dynamic instead of standing firm in who I was. I lost who I was in doing so. I am reminded of the movie, “Runaway Bride,” where Richard Gere is a reporter who goes to this small town where he has heard of a woman who has left several men at the alter. As he is interviewing each of the would-be husbands, he asked them how she liked her eggs. Their answers were all different as she would choose the style of eggs they liked instead of picking for herself. In a way, that is how I lived. This too directed my decisions as I made them out of fear of what others would think or want.
All of this was going on while I was trying to “find myself,” as many self-help books put it. As I started to truly find myself, I developed the fear of going back to that person I was before, loosing myself again. This turned into a roller coaster ride of self-confidence followed by fear. Pulling myself up by my boot straps and then falling again. I would reach an age milestone and compare where I felt I was with what I had pictured someone that age was supposed to be like. Many times, that would lead me back to fear.
Once I started giving my life over to God, and letting Him direct, it was no longer me that I was trying to find. Since I was seeking God, I had no fear of loosing myself. Jenna and I symbolically did this a few weeks ago as we kept the best and threw away the rest. But this isn’t a one time decision and then voila! It is a learning curve. It is a slow strengthening with constant reminders. When I focused on God, I had no fear of losing myself. When I focused on things not of God, those fears showed up every time. So it becomes a matter of recognizing those moments, trusting that God will help and then turning back to Him.
Hosea 3:5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their King, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
And I would return to the Lord in fear. Not for something I had done like a guilty dog who just chewed your favorite shoe, but in fear, or understanding, of His justness and goodness. I would return with an understanding that He knew what was next, or what was going on, or that I would get focused on myself for a moment and He still loved me, showed grace towards me, and welcomed me back.
There have been many times that I have played the “what if” game. You know this game, you go back to a time in your life where you made a decision and think about what would be different if you made a choice based on what you know now. What if I lived more in fear of God as a teenager instead of in fear of man? What if I chose to be a protecter the women I came into contact with instead of being a predator? These are choices I made that were worldly and not based on God.
1 Peter 1:17 (ESV) And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
What would have I done differently? Many things. But, depending on how far I go back as to when I could have made that choice, my life would be very different right now. You can’t play that game. It will drive you nuts. What you can do, though, is decide today, this moment right now, to not live in fear of man, this world, or anything in it. Instead, live in fear of the Lord, not because of what you have or haven’t done, but because of what He has done.
1 Peter 1:18-19 (ESV) 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Jesus has ransomed you, paid for you in full. There is nothing left to pay. That is awesome. That is something to fear! Even while you were sinning, God sent His Son to die for you, to pay for your sin. You were once counted an enemy of God, but because of His love for you, He bought you back.
Fear leads to worship. That which you fear will become the focus of your worship. If you fear man, you will worship man. You will worship their praise, their attention, and you will do what will make them happy, or worship them, in order to get that praise or attention.
When you understand God’s love for you, His desire for you, and His will for you, then you will gain that fear of the Lord that leads to wisdom, leads to knowledge and leads to life. And the fear of the Lord will lead to worship of the One who is only worthy of that worship. Then you won’t have to worry about losing yourself in a bad decision, because you will have been found in Christ. And that is a very secure place to be!