I have two long-standing fears:
I’m afraid of not being enough. For God, for those I love, for the situations in my life.
And maybe a second layer of not being enough is that I’m afraid of missing God. So I have a habit of working hard at it. At knowing and pleasing Him.
Throughout high school and into college, practices like Bible reading and prayer became ways of measuring, ways of deeming myself ‘okay.’ Good. Right. Pleasing. Enough. Idolizing feelings of closeness to God were attempts to keep these fears at bay. The outside was pretty but my insides were warring.
My daughter has a bubble gun we play with OFTEN. Similarly to what the Bible says about life, everything but God is like a bubble. That’s hard to admit sometimes. Life as it is today could drastically change tomorrow. Self-sufficient efforts and approval-seeking tendencies will never produce a foundation for real contentment. Feelings are not sustainable sources of courage, joy and rest.
If you consider God like a bubble, you’ll fear everything. Peace that surpasses all understanding will seem impossible.
I struggled to truly surrender because the God I knew wasn’t fully the true God, but a God I fashioned from my feelings and experiences and fears. Not the God of the Bible.
It was when the cycle of striving, perfecting, worrying and pretending became too much and I was ready to give it up that God said, ‘Finally. This is where we can start.‘ Humble. Desperate for something outside myself to be the answer. I spent months asking, Who is God, really? Who is He to me? Who is He for me? What is He like? What does He sound like?
If everything else is a bubble, what is God? God is the ground.
It was the theology of God’s immutability, the reality that God is incapable of changing, and my lack of fearing this God, that impacted me the most.
In her book None Like Him, Jen Wilkin writes, “Every circumstance you encounter will change except the circumstance of your forgiveness. Every possession you own will pass away except the pearl of your salvation. Every relationship you enter into will waver except your adoption by your heavenly Father.”
Psalm 19 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” (v7-10)
Here David called the word of God the “fear of the LORD.” It is deeply connected to the awe and majesty of God Himself. One who reads and hears and studies the word of God, meeting Him in His word, will have an appropriate appreciation of God’s awe and majesty (via). The more we see God as He truly is, the more we will fear Him rightly, the more He will become real and alive to us in every moment. Psalm 25:14 says, The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. Psalm 34:9 says those who fear the Lord lack NOTHING. Psalm 147:11 says He delights in those who fear him.
As I got to know this God, this unchanging, take-Him-at-His-Word, I-can’t-not-love-you God, I knew I could trust Him with all of me. The fear of not being enough is a bubble. God is the ground and fear of the Lord is the way. I know I’m safe with Him, because He is God, and what a glorious, good, beautiful God, regardless of my godly behavior or my falling short. What He says is true will always be true.
I can joyfully and confidently live for this God.
Maybe it’s a question worth asking for you: Who is God to you? Is it the God of the Bible or a God of your own making?
Scripture for further meditation:
Psalm 103:11, 17