I admit I've always been afraid of God, even as a child. I know you talk a lot about a loving God, but I just can't get over my fear that He'll punish me if I do anything wrong. I'd like to think God loves me but I can't. — M.McK.
Have you ever asked yourself what it would take to convince you that your emotions are lying to you, and that God really does love you?
I say this because we need to realize that our emotions don't always tell us the truth. God gave us our emotions, and life would be very dull without them—but sometimes they get confused and make us believe things that aren't really true. There may be all sorts of reasons for this, including the way we were raised or our childhood experiences—but whatever the reason, our emotions aren't always dependable guides.
Perhaps this is the case with you—and the only solution is to let the truth be your guide, even if your emotions tell you otherwise. And what is the truth? The truth is God loves you. Yes, He is holy and pure, and sin is an offense to Him. But in spite of our sins He still loves us. Just as parents still love their children even if they disobey, so God loves us even if we sin.
How do I know God loves us? I know it for one reason: because God sent His only Son into the world to die for our sins. The Bible says, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16). Would Christ have died for you if He didn't love you and want you to be with Him in Heaven forever? Of course not. But He did—and today you can come to know His love by asking Him to come into your life.