Fasting from Worry and Fear (Day 5)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It would seem amiss to address fear without discussing a concept found throughout the scriptures: “the fear of the Lord.” Believing in a good and gracious God, how do we understand the concept of fearing God, which is found repeatedly in Scripture.
In Hebrew, there are two distinct phrases translated as “fear” in English. One literally means “shaking” – as in shaking in fear because you know there is an approaching army who intends you harm. This is not the word used in conjunction with “fear of the Lord.” The word in “fear of the Lord” literally means “flowing of the gut,” or “pouring out.” When connected to Yahweh’s name, this points towards an outpouring of reverence and awe at the power and might of God. So while God certainly has the power to do anything to us, a reality which could be frightening, the Biblical call to “fear of the Lord” is to stir in a Christian increased awe and reverence of God.
I recently had a conversation with a church member who had been speaking with a friend about her faith. A disillusioned Roman Catholic, his friend stated that she could be a Christian without going to church. While I do believe that one can have faith in Jesus without “organized religion,” going to church, worshiping regularly, is critical to a vibrant faith. All of us struggle against apathy in our spiritual lives. But practicing one’s faith alone runs a high risk of losing that sense of awe and reverence.
As seen in our Proverbs text above, “the fear of the Lord” also points to a right relationship with God – one of humility and receptiveness. We are clearly the student and God the teacher. When we stop “fearing” God, we start thinking we have all the answers, our prayer life becomes a one-way list of demands “fix this, heal them, give me that.” In contrast, worship draws us beyond ourselves and our constant self-focus. It is important!
So as we seek to fast from fear, may we also seek to increase our awe – that deep and true worship which flows from the gut – that we would pour out our awe at God’s majesty, power, and grace.
Let us pray,
Lord God, you are Lord of the universe, creator of all, crafter of mountains and designer of capillaries. You truly are an awesome God. Stir in us a deep reverence. May awe at your majesty flow from our souls. We pray in the name of the one who raised the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Tags: devotions, fasting, fear, Lent, worry