Brothers and Sisters,
This week, the early Monday morning sunrise found me driving south on a long and quiet Wyoming highway. A few hours in the car by myself always lends itself well to a good conversation with the Lord, worship and praise.
As I was listing to the Air1 radio app, the announcer shared a story that caught my attention. He told of Jim Bakker, a famous TV evangelist who had apparently got mixed up in some terrible things, was prosecuted and landed in prison back in the early 1990's. During an interview he was asked "When did you fall out of love with Jesus? When did you stop loving Jesus?" to which Jim replied, "I didn't fall out of love with Jesus, I loved Him all the way through". He went on to say, "I loved Jesus, but I didn't fear God".
That hit me pretty hard. How many times have I fallen into a sinful pattern, while still recognizing Jesus in my life? Seems rather contradictory, but I think many of us Christians can fall (and likely have fallen at some point) into this scenario. How many of us have loved Jesus, but didn't fear God?
Fear has a couple of different meanings. You can have a fear as an emotion which is formed from our anticipation or awareness of danger or punishment. This kind of fear can incapacitate you, make you unable to enjoy the fullness of life. Or, according to biblehelpsinc.org, there is a holy fear, a good fear, that focuses on our "awe and respect for the majesty and holiness of God. It is a godly reverence. Reverential fear is an awe for the heavenly Father. It is a fear of displeasing God."
I recall the day I got my fear back. It was the day I was told my daughter would pass away before the age of 1. With this news, I experienced all the definitions of fear you can come up with. I was scared of the road I was beginning to walk down. I feared all the things I did not know about Trisomy 18.
However, emotional fear of what I did not know about the road ahead, quickly turned to holy fear as I became so aware of how intricately our bodies were made, as I saw miracle after miracle take place in my daughter's body, as I watched God turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh through our journey. My eyes were opened to His vastness, and I started to experience overwhelming awe - not only in my daughter's experiences, but I started being in awe at everything! The details of the flowers, the soils beneath our feet, the way He would paint the sky every morning for our delight.. I could go on!
I look back upon the grievances I have experienced through life and am now overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and thanksgiving. Why? Fear of the Lord trumps any and all fear on this earth. Over the last eight years or so, I have come to realize that my God cannot be put in a box. That true respect and reverence for Him is grown through my awe of Him. I am still human, and therefore still choose sinful responses to situations. But its different now. Reverence of the Lord continues to slowly bend my heart towards Him, where I pray each day that the Holy Spirit convicts me with a tender touch, changes my heart, and leads me towards living out a holier life. I lean into the sanctification process and pray that my thoughts and actions are more pleasing than displeasing to God each day.
You see, holy, reverential fear helps us in so many ways.
Psalm 19:9 - The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.
Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Proverbs 10:27 - Fear of the Lord prolongs life.
Proverbs 16:6 - ...by the fear of the Lord, men turn away from evil.
And as a response of our fear of the Lord, we are beckoned to:
I encourage you to to retain a healthy fear and keep your eyes on heaven by surrounding yourself with God's promises. These promises can be found in Christian music and by keeping the Word at our fingertips (bible apps, carry a bible, and recite verses). Continually be in prayer and repentance. Invite Him on the commute or bus ride and clear the seat beside you so you can talk to Him as a friend on your drive. Ask Him to give you eyes to see, where you experience a "whoa! that can only be God" moment, where awe of the Lord captivates your entire being.
Additionally, find a quiet space, close your eyes and picture sitting at the Lord's feet, in absolute awe and reverence. Bask in His delight. It is impossible to describe the feeling of complete peace when sitting in silence with the Father. With this peace, fear of this world has no place, and we are able to live the life our Father wishes for us to experience on this earth.
Several years ago, my son found this song and video. I love to watch this video as the pictures within it paired with the words tend to strike up within me an awe and reverence for the Lord.
So- which fear do you choose? An emotional, unhealthy fear - or a fear of the Lord that will draw you closer in relationship to the Trinity while slowly massaging your heart to look more and more like Jesus every day. I pray you experience a reminder of the unshakeable kingdom you have received, and with thanksgiving, please the Lord by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe all the rest of your days.
It's always fun to hear the vast creativity of the Lord and how he catches our attention. What are the things that strike up awe for the Lord within you? Put your answer in the comments below.