The earliest emotion I remember feeling about God is fear. As a child, I pictured God as distant, thundering, fiery. I assumed that the Father would blast me with consequences when I sinned, unless Jesus chose to plead with the Father to let me off with a warning. To be honest, I thought of Jesus as the nicest member of the Trinity—the Father was angry and the Holy Spirit was just peculiar.
I obeyed God for a long time, not out of love, but from a deep sense of fear. I did all I was supposed to do, but I kept my distance from God, and (secretly) hoped he’d keep his distance from me. As I entered adulthood, my skewed “fear of the Lord” began to destroy me. If God was not for me, then everything was against me. Who could I trust? I was insecure, unstable, anxious, blown about by circumstances.
Deep down, I wanted a different relationship with God, but I wasn’t sure where to begin. How do you learn to trust when you’ve spent a lifetime protecting yourself? I turned to a passage of Scripture that had been tugging on my heart for years—the first chapter of John’s Gospel: “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:16–18).