Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What are YOU Afraid of?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1

"The fear of the Lord "- what does that mean? 

Fear conjures up many different things in our hearts. One person has a phobia of something that others make a living doing. The sky scraper window washer is a great example of someone who can't be afraid of heights. The reptile man can't be afraid of snakes. The motivational speaker can't be afraid of public speaking. But is this the kind of fear that Proverbs is talking about?

Are we to be afraid of God in the same sense as these previous examples? What does a God fearing man look like? God is holy, righteous, faithful, loving, sovereign and good; just to name a few. 

What does it look like to fear a holy God and does that look different than fearing a God who is characterized by tender love and affection for His people? Look at this next verse.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. Psalm 23

"Fear" is in the verse but in this case David is saying that he will "fear no evil". Evil is often feared after we have seen its affects. We are not intrinsically afraid of walking down a dark street until we have seen this situation go south for ourselves or for others. After we have seen evil work and even as we come to a place where death seems to be knocking at our door we can take comfort in knowing that His rod and staff are there to protect and guide us. Not His arms but His instruments are there to comfort. 

As a father I know something about fear. There have been times my children have feared me as they have had occasion to be disciplined and that is never fun. I hope that those fears are long out of their hearts and heads and it is a respect of time and position that they acknowledge rather than me coming down on them today. This can be a kind of "fear" but it's all wrapped up in the person of God. 

We know Him and His power-
 to heal and to bring low
 to protect and provide and to take away as needed
 to trample armies and not break a wilting blade of grass 
 to prune and cultivate for fruit production

This is the same God, with the same end in mind and yet His ways are different for each circumstance for the good of His children and His glory. When we fear Him rightly He brings our hearts closer to Him. That comes in many forms. 

Think about "kindness leading to repentance". It seems counter intuitive but it is so true. We know He is right and so our hearts are drawn to Him even when we are wrong because we know He is kind in His judgments and He forgives His people. 
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them. Psalm 34

That is a great promise to those who fear the Lord and in our human hearts does that look like the same fear is our enemies would have when they see the "angel of the Lord"? That same angel looks very different to them than it does to those who fear Him.

My heart is heavy these days as it seems like the valley floor is nowhere in sight but I continue to descend. The fear of night doesn't bother me nor the fear of winter but the fear of the unknown. As I posted not too long ago, the fear of pruning is fine with me but it's harder when we don't know if the end result is going to be a stump that remains. 

He takes us into valleys for our good and His glory; I know that in my head but right now my heart is not too happy about being having to look straight up and still not seeing light. The thought that the valley is where I might remain is troubling and yet He says that even in the valley of the shadow of death there is comfort. 

Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack! Psalm 34

No Lack. 

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