When I started thinking clearly about what fear is, I came to see “fearing god” as a good thing. “Fear God” is a biblical command; it’s everywhere, from Genesis to Revelation, so we really can’t explain it away as one of those strange, obsolete Old Testament-y things. St. John says terror is cast out by love, which is a great thing, since being terrified of God and people and things is a miserable way to live. But “the fear of the Lord” seems to be something distinct from that.
For example, tornadoes: I cannot control them, they can hurt me, so I feel some fear toward them. For another example, my wife: I feel a certain fear of her, simply by virtue of the fact that she’s able to affect me in ways I cannot control. And this is a GOOD thing. If I keep her so far away from me that she can’t affect me, then that means our relationship lacks intimacy. If I think I can control her, then that means we’re enmeshed and we lack healthy boundaries. But because she CAN affect me, and because I know I CAN’T control her, that means every moment with her is an adventure, where I’m always ready for her to affect me in unexpected ways beyond my control. After 13 years of marriage, she still surprises me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is like that with Papa. Papa is infinitely beyond my control, and infinitely able to affect my life, so fear is a quite sensible response to her. But because Papa has revealed herself to me, I have learned to trust that those surprises are good surprises. This does not decrease my fear, because my trust does not decrease her ability to affect me, nor does it increase my ability to control her. Instead, this appropriate fear becomes the natural habitat for faith to evolve and grow.
To fear Papa is to know that every day will be an adventure. To trust Papa is to believe that the adventures will ultimately prove to be good ones.