They shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them, never to draw back from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, so that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing good to them and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32: 38-41 NRSV
Okay, so much for free will. Here is Jeremiah giving God's message of reassurance to the people after he has bought a field from his relative. The message seems to suggest that God is going to make sure things go well in God's future relationship with the people by placing the fear of God in the people's hearts. Just as the people are being planted in the land, so the fear of God will be planted in their hearts. Faithfulness as well as abundance are then assured.
I am not sure this is the covenant I was thinking about. I know that there is a give and take to having a covenant. All parties contribute and agree to the covenant. This verse makes a relationship with God feel like an enforced relationship - perhaps more in the lines of a dictatorship.
I think that is the real problem I have with fearing God. It feels enforced and unnatural. There isn't a relationship when you fear God. Although fear is a natural state, it is not healthy to remain in a state of fear. And I would be more likely to rebel than begin to deepen a relationship with anyone who made me fearful. I may struggle with loving God or find myself not living as if I was in love with God, but I am trying my best to do this everyday.
God, help us to come closer to you in a spirit of love and trust. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims