What were you like as an 18 year old when you graduated from high school?
And how mature were you in your faith?
As parents and educators we play a vital role in preparing our children for their futures, and as I consider the students at Veritas Academy, I wonder mostly if we will have painted an accurate picture of Christ for them. I remember back to my own growing up years and what it was like to graduate, leave home, and enter the college scene. I left for college believing God existed and that I should strive to please Him but I knew little else. My parents were not believers at the time, nor did they know what was really going on in my life or what I was learning. With no adult who took a personal interest in my growth, it left space for an abusive guy to step in and I left for college in part to run away from him.
My first years in college included months of inner turmoil that I shared with no one, not even my roommates.
Thankfully, I had been introduced to a Christian group on campus and for the first time was reading the Bible, learning about God’s nature, and considering the condition of my own heart. Because I didn’t see God as one who loved me personally, this examination initiated shame and caused me to feel unworthy in light of His holiness. I began to grow a fear of God as I learned more about His divine, holy and sovereign nature.
In light of His perfection, I also understood how I had failed and reminders of personal mistakes flooded my mind. With a vise grip hold, I maintained control over this inner turmoil, too afraid to open even a window to let anyone in. Not even God. I repeatedly asked Him to forgive me for my sins, but my closed heart was too afraid to receive His love and forgiveness. The darkness of my own heart was all too clear, but I remained stuck in this stage of my spiritual awareness for quite some time. I spent countless hours searching the Bible for a way out of this deep hole. Suddenly one evening, sitting by the side of my dorm room bed, the truth of the gospel penetrated my heart and the angst within began to subside as my comprehension of His love and mercy took hold.
My fear of God now began to merge with a perspective of His love for me as well.
The Bible tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the foundation of life” but also that “there is no fear in love.” These two verses seem paradoxical, yet when woven together, paint a complete picture of a God who is not only holy but also gracious and loving. Authentic faith takes deep courage. It requires exposure to the All Consuming Fire! (Hebrews 12:29) Thankfully it’s a Refiner’s fire ablaze with love!
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18
Our children must learn to fear God because without fear, or reverence, a healthy fear of sin and its consequences will not form either. But at the same time, they must learn to run fearlessly into His loving arms where their anxieties will be cast out. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) but the love of God is the pillar upon which our hope rests.