We talked about fear of the Lord at youth group a few weeks back and it is sticking on my heart with super glue. I can’t get away from what this means. Not a fear of punishment or a fear of an evil tyrant but a fear caused by awe and wonder at the holiness of God. Like most things in our faith it’s both simple and complex.
Ralph Martin, an author, speaker, professor and leader of Renewal Ministries, writes in his book The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints that “the biblical fear of the Lord is an intelligent fear, based on a deep perception of the holiness and majesty of God….While the fear of the Lord is simply the beginning of wisdom, and the end of wisdom is love (1 John 4:17), one doesn’t jump into love without a deep and ongoing experience of biblical, Spirit-inspired fear….Fear of the Lord is a gift of God; it is not opposed to love, but prepares for it. Fear of the Lord and love of the Lord go together” (p 55, emphasis added).
Like I said, both simple and complex.
In trying to wrap my head around this I have learned that fear of the Lord is an experience and encounter with the Almighty, Creative, Awesome God. This encounter with God saturates us in grace and moves us to act in love. I am reminded of the beloved in the Song of Songs: “I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh” (5:5). This awe inspired love sits over me like the liquid oil of anointment as I come to meet the Lord. It is sacred and to be honored. God does not want us to be afraid of Him but just as we might stand in awe of a beautiful painting or sculpture and admire the work of the artist, or just as we grow in excitement and anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit, how much more so should we be in awe of God and grow in anticipation of His visit to us.
Fear of the Lord and love of the Lord go together. When we see God for who He is we are moved to love and honor Him as King and Ruler over all. And we fall on our knees in humble service because of His majesty and magnificence.
It’s OK if you aren’t ready to jump into love of the Lord. Take time today to contemplate his holiness and majesty. How can you grow in fear of the Lord today? How can you honor the Lord God today?