The Fear Of God

What do you do when God speaks to you?  What do you do when He doesn’t? 

Today is like every other day.  It’s a day to get up early and go to work.  It’s another day to remember all the cares and anxieties and responsibilities that hang over our heads.  Rather, that’s how I begin to feel as those days bleed together.  But that’s not what those days were created for.

I’ve been struggling lately.  A lot.  This year has been unkind.  The empire of my life has started to slip in many ways.  Uncertainty clouds my future on so many fronts that I am often sick to my stomach over it.  And despite my best efforts, I take those cares with me everywhere I go.

So it was as I set foot into the elevator at work.  It was bright and sunny outside but I still felt cloudy with a chance of flash flooding inside.  The elevators in our building are quite slow.  I stood there listening to the hum as I was lifted to the third floor.  I have been praying for direction…  for answers.  But to this point, I haven’t heard anything.

My thoughts drift away.  I’m a sinner.  I’m guilty, unworthy and inadequate.  I’ve likely taken myself out of the plan and protection of God.  I sigh a deep sigh that I am pretty sure originated in my very soul.  So heavy.  These cares, these weights.  For years I’ve been bearing them, repositioning myself frequently like someone carrying a large sack over their shoulder.  For years, I wonder how to give them to God.  But then I remember…  I’m a sinner.  I am too ashamed to ask God for help.

So I re-position again and keep walking.  But I’m tired.  In all the definitions possible, I’m tired.

As the elevator doors chimed and opened up, a random thought just popped into my head.  I say random because I was obsessing on the sources of my anxiety.  This thought was not related to them.  It was a Bible verse.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.

I stopped my obsessing for a moment to figure out why I just thought of that verse.  When I could find no reason, I began to digest it.


The Fear of God


Fearing God is not a simple definition of being scared of Him.  Though I generally find myself afraid of Him, the word here is closer to reverence or awe.  Oh yes, I feel that way towards Him too.  In fact, it’s that reverence and awe that I have for Him that causes me to be afraid of Him.  He is God.  He’s not some genie who grants wishes or a leprechaun with magic powers.  He’s the almighty God.

I am afraid of Him because I am in reverence of who He is.  My fear is born out of a deep awe of One who can create life from nothing with only His words.  Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Jonathan Edwards made several points in his famous sermon “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God“.  I am going to steal the Wikipedia summary for you here:

  1. God may cast wicked men into hell at any given moment.
  2. The Wicked deserve to be cast into hell. Divine justice does not prevent God from destroying the Wicked at any moment.
  3. The Wicked, at this moment, suffer under God’s condemnation to Hell.
  4. The Wicked, on earth – at this very moment – suffer the torments of Hell. The Wicked must not think, simply because they are not physically in Hell, that God (in Whose hand the Wicked now reside) is not – at this very moment – as angry with them as He is with those miserable creatures He is now tormenting in hell, and who – at this very moment – do feel and bear the fierceness of His wrath.
  5. At any moment God shall permit him, Satan stands ready to fall upon the Wicked and seize them as his own.
  6. If it were not for God’s restraints, there are, in the souls of wicked men, hellish principles reigning which, presently, would kindle and flame out into hellfire.
  7. Simply because there are not visible means of death before them at any given moment, the Wicked should not feel secure.
  8. Simply because it is natural to care for oneself or to think that others may care for them, men should not think themselves safe from God’s wrath.
  9. All that wicked men may do to save themselves from Hell’s pains shall afford them nothing if they continue to reject Christ.
  10. God has never promised to save us from Hell, except for those contained in Christ through the covenant of Grace.

And there you have it.  Fear aplenty for the sinner.  For me.  Maybe for you too.

Having re-read The Shack recently, my eyes were opened a little more to the character of God.  This book points out how we relate so much easier to Jesus as a lover.  But the flip side is that we can view God as the judger.  So we cling to Jesus and hide from God.  WP Young makes a strong point in The Shack that the love of Christ IS the love and character of God the Father.  And truly, Jesus said “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”  So all the love poured out on the world through Christ was the love of the Father God.

The two extreme sides of God.  On one hand you have the God of justice, of judgment.  His righteousness and Word are truth and He will vindicate them.  On the other hand you have the God of redemption, grace and love.  His ultimate sacrifice settles the tab for His justice.

The fear or awe of God is understanding His ways.  It means that we understand His justice and His wrath.  But we also understand His love and His grace.  He bought us back.


The Beginning of Wisdom


It’s interesting that this statement occurs three times in the Scripture.  Once by David in the Psalms (Psalm 111:10) and twice by Solomon in Proverbs (Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10).  I’d say that it’s safe to assume God wants us to think about it.

So I am thinking about it.  This understanding walks us up to the door of wisdom and lets us start to walk through.  It’s the beginning of wisdom.

It’s at this point that we can hopefully begin to develop our relationship with God.  Then He will guide and grow us as we walk with Him.  Even if you start out just being afraid of God.

If I begin to walk through that door of wisdom with God, He will reveal more of Himself to me.  I will begin to embrace and accept his grace.  Yes I said accept.  His grace is given to us freely.  It’s unmerited favor.  It’s a treasure that we have no hope of repaying.  And I honestly struggle with that.  It’s hard to accept a ‘get out of jail free’ card when I know just how much He paid for it.  It’s far from free.  That brings me much shame.  I don’t like to think of my sin on the shoulders of Christ as He struggled to breathe on the Cross.


It’s About My Heart


So yes, I struggle with guilt and unworthiness.  I know that God wants me to move forward.  I know that He wants me to accept His grace.  I know that He wants me to walk uprightly.  But I feel like today, He is telling me that where I am right now at this very moment…  He loves me.

He loves me and He knows my heart.  It grieves when it’s not pleasing to him.  Maybe He’s telling me that a heart like that already fears and reveres Him.  And maybe I’m on the verge of wisdom… and grace.