Reclaiming Fear

CANYONThursday, January 29, 2015

Psalm 111

Maybe it’s time we bring a little fear back into our relationship with God.

I’m not talking about the fear of punishment—the fear that God will punish us for breaking laws or committing sins. The only motivation this kind of fear has ever stirred up… is the motivation to not get caught.

When I say fear, I mean the feeling that one gets creeping up to the edge of the Grand Canyon—the terrifying juxtaposition of one’s own smallness to the canyon’s plunging depths and sweeping expanse.

Or think of your reaction to a mighty storm: wind howling, lightning flashing, and thunder shaking the earth—the feeling of being defenseless, at the mercy of its power, despite all the protections you’ve built up around you.

And there’s the fear one experiences in earliest moments of falling in love, the anticipation of making the commitment of marriage or receiving a child into your family—powerful, life altering moments that confront us with our own vulnerability.

At the end of Psalm 111 we hear the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

These words come last, after the psalmist has built up a towering description of God’s attributes and actions. From daily bread to the everlasting promise of the covenant, “holy and awesome is his name.”

In the presence of such greatness, who could stand without trembling?

The fear of God may simply be the recognition that God is God, and we are mere mortals. In that awareness is an opportunity for faith. In that fear is the beginning of wisdom. Just imagine how your life, or this world may be different with a little more of this fear.

For if we are truly in awe of God’s creation, would we dare alter the landscape or make use of the world’s resources without careful and prayerful deliberation?

If we are amazed by God’s gift of life, could we ever again look upon another human being as anything other than precious and deserving of love?

If we are truly humbled by God’s authority and power, would we ever allow other loyalties to take such a large share of our hearts and our lives?

Pastor Sarah