It was Puah’s nineteenth birthday and they were celebrating it at the same Lebanese restaurant where they had their first dinner together. They have been dating since Tobias broke up with Yasma which was the day after Puah and he made love for the first time. That morning, he had shown up at her apartment and given her rosy red petunias and pretty pickled peanuts.
The flowers were beautiful and they brightened the living-room and she was tempted to eat the entire bag of the peanuts but she resisted. She had half of the bag and would have the rest tomorrow.
“What does it mean to fear God?” Puah asked him after they ordered their meal.
“It doesn’t mean to be afraid of Him. To fear Him is to reverence, honor, respect and stand in awe of Him. It means to be obey His Word, walk in his ways, worship and serve Him, shun evil, not be conformed to the world, to live soberly, to keep yourself from the world’s evil influence. from the world, to deny the desires and forsake the things of the world and to be overcomers of the world.”
“So to fear God is to show Him respect and to do what pleases Him.”
“Yes. When we fear God several things happen. We are blessed; we will be happy and it will be well with us; it prolongs life; it leads to life so that we may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil; the rewards are riches, honor and life; God’s eyes are on us; His angel encamps about us and rescues us; His salvation is near to us; He fulfills our desires, hear our cries and save us; He favors us; it will be well for us because we fear Him openly; His lovingkindness is great toward us; there is no want; we are secure and have refuge. In Proverbs 14:27, it says that the fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.”
“Thanks for explaining it to me. I didn’t think it meant to be afraid of Him although many people think that God was different in the Old Testament. They think He was cruel and exacting then.”
“The Bible teaches that God is the same then, now and in the future. He was the same loving and merciful God then that He is now. The plan of salvation was put in place from the Garden of Eden. God was and still is the One who would go to great lengths to save us. Look at the people of Nineveh. When Jonah decided that he wasn’t going to go there and preach God’s message, God stirred up a storm at sea to get his attention and drive him back to Nineveh to carry out His mission. The salvation of the people of that great city was extremely important to God. It’s the same thing today. The salvation of those who are still lost is very important to Him and that’s why He calls His church to go out there and share the Gospel. The people of Nineveh repented and God relented. It isn’t up to us who should or shouldn’t be saved. It’s up to God. And we can’t allow our prejudice to prevent us from doing the work He calls us to do. Jonah hated the Ninevites because of their cruelty and wickedness and wanted them to perish in their sins but God wanted to offer them salvation. It was up to them if they accepted it or not.”
“And Jesus was One with the Father since the foundation of the world which means He was One with the Father in the Old Testament as well as in the New. And we know that Jesus isn’t cruel and exacting.”
“No. He came because of the Father who loved us so much that He wanted us to believe in His Son so that we would not perish but have everlasting life. God was love back in the Old Testament and He is love now. Even John the apostle couldn’t help but marvel at the Father’s love. He said, “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!”
“People have a negative idea of God and many of them fear Him and don’t want to have anything to do with Him.”
“Unfortunately and very sadly, that’s true. If they were to truly know Him, they would see how wrong they are about Him. They would see the God and Father Jesus came to tell us about. Jesus came to reveal Him. Through His works and His teaching and His whole ministry, He revealed a loving, compassionate, merciful, generous, kind and caring Father who rejoices in Heaven with the angels when a lost person is saved. We need to tell and show people who God really is because the devil has succeeded in blinding people to the truth. He has maligned God in their eyes.”
“If people were to read the Bible, especially the Psalms and the Gospels, they would see the true and wonderful nature of God.”
“They will see it in every book in the Bible.”
“Yes. What are some practical ways we can show people who God really is?”
“Well, you can show His love to others by praying for them; encouraging them; spending time with them; opening your home to them; cooking meals for them; providing transportation; inviting them into your life by making them feel included, loved, and valued, making them a part of your life; praying with them; forgiving them and doing chores for them.”
“I love cooking and baking so bless someone that way. Maybe cook something for a neighbor or even a homeless person.”
“You can do that.”
“I like to draw so I can draw pictures or make cards and add scriptures to encourage people.”
“That’s another great idea. When we do these acts of kindness, we are showing people who God is and has always been.”
“So, in summary, the fear of God isn’t the unpleasant kind which has you frightened or worried that something bad is going to happen to you. Godly fear is healthy. It’s the kind of fear we should have of our parents. When we misbehave, we are fearful of how they will react. God will discipline us when we do wrong and we are encouraged not to be upset about it. God is our Father and like any good parent, He will discipline us. He does it out of love and it’s always right and for our good. Being disciplined isn’t enjoyable while it is happening but afterwards we can see the result, a quiet growth in grace and character which is what God wants for us.”
Their dinner arrived and they tucked into it, talking about other things. Then, before the dessert came, he reached into his pocket and took out a little black box. Puah gulped, her eyes widening in shock. He reached for her hand, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze.
“From the moment we first met, I knew that I was in trouble,” he said. “I tried to fight my growing feelings for you because of your age and Yasma but it was no use. I fell fast and hard for you and now that we’re together, I want to take that next big step. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Puah, if you’ll have me.”
“Of course, I’ll have you, you big lug,” she muttered through tears.
He smiled and took out the ring. “Will you marry me?”
He put the ring on her finger. “Happy birthday.”
She stared at it. It was stunning. “This is the best birthday I’ve ever had, Tobias.”
He raised his glass. “To us.”
She raised hers. “To us.” They touched their glasses and then sipped the non-alcoholic wine. Dessert came and she could barely eat it because she was so excited.
After dinner, he took her home and they shared the news with her grandmother who didn’t seem at all surprised.