Fear of the Lord – A Lesson On What It Means To Fear God

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” – Proverbs 9:10

14829998461_12bcf564b9

As you read through the Old Testament, fear of or fearing the Lord is a common theme. It wasn’t until a recent study through the book of Proverbs that I truly grasped this concept and understood it completely. The Bible continues to reveal new things in spite of what we believe we have mastered. The Word is a tree that continues to sprout new shoots even when we think it can’t grow any taller or wider.

Fearing the Lord was one of the concepts I thought I truly understood. I struggle with an anxiety disorder that is often exacerbated by the threat of God’s wrath or judgement. There are few who can understand fearing God like someone with an anxiety and panic disorder; yet, it may be this very fact that kept me in ignorance of wisdom.

I sought out help in the book of Proverbs to deal with specific sins that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop doing consistently for more than a few days or weeks at a time. But I found nothing, nothing that would really help me move past my own weakness and overcome the temptations I face. If I’m honest, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I read chapter through chapter, hoping that surely the next I read would contain the knowledge I was missing. Still nothing.

Humility quickly turned to frustration. Surely, if this was God’s Word and if God really wanted to help me he would give me the knowledge I needed. All I kept hearing was “fear the LORD”, “fear of the LORD”, blah…blah…blah. Thanks, God. Think I got that one covered. But because I was looking for what I thought I needed, I was missing the message God was trying to reveal to me.

Unintentionally, I began to start contemplating what that phrase really means. My understanding was right at the surface level. Obviously, to fear God means to fear him. You do something bad or turn away from him, watch out because his wrath is likely to fall on you.  But as I dove deeper into meditating on the phrase, I realized that I think the word “fear” is really lost on our culture.

We are a society built on individualism. Fear is only understood as a response to a danger that we perceive can hurt us or threatens our individually. Fear in ancient cultures was more than just a threat; it also dealt with honor or respect. I would say that the vast majority of people fear breaking their country’s laws, but crime still occurs in high numbers everyday. Why? Because the people breaking the law may fear the law, but they don’t respect it. They may fear the consequences of their actions, but ultimately they think the rules don’t apply to themselves, or they respect their desires more than they respect the rules.

And as I pondered over this concept of fear, I began realizing how finite my understand of the “fear of the LORD” truly was. I realized that I was relating to God exactly the way a criminal relates with their county’s rules. I feared God’s wrath, but I didn’t respect him or honor him. When choosing to follow God’s laws became difficult, I always failed. It wasn’t because I powerless, as I often times felt; it was because I respected or honored by own desires and rules over God’s. I ultimately “feared” my ego and pride more than I feared God.

Fear has a lot to do with respect and even admiration. It is even a sense of awe and wonder, knowing that whatever we are fearing has more power than ourselves. If you fear a dangerous animal, such as a bear, you would never walk into its den because you respect their territory. My fear of God was sneaking around in his world, not respecting him, but hoping that he would either be sleeping, forgive me without ever changing my behavior, or not get caught.

“Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” because it makes you humble and opens your eyes to your lack of power. Yes, it does deal with the concept of God being a very real threat and danger, but I believe biblical concept of fear goes much further than that. “Fear” is probably not the best word to use in translation to get across the meaning to our culture who does not generally think of fear and respect as two sides of the same coin. Fearing God means submitting to his power, admitting that you know very little, and that his wisdom surpasses anything which you could ever conceive.

Strangely, what began as a search for a way to fix my lust problem, ended with the revelation that my problem was not really lust at all. Not fearing God was. Respecting my ego and selfish desires over God’s law was. Now lust is still a part of the equation, but I believe it to be a small part. The main thing that was keeping me from overcoming my desires was not lack of power, but lack of will.

Somewhere in the depth of my heart I believed (and still do to some degree) that I knew better than God. Somewhere I believed that I should be able to seek out pleasure wherever I want to, and if I’m honest, never wanted to stop. And I don’t think that’s ever going to completely disappear. Our very fallen nature as human beings is to look out for ourselves before anyone else, including God. The more humble we are, the weaker that desire becomes, but I think will always exist. The essence of “fear of the LORD” is not necessarily the threat of vengeance. It is viewing God as a loving parent who we respect and who’s rules who choose to follow, regardless of whether we think they are fair, right, or in our best interest. It means keeping our pride in check and understanding that God’s wisdom far exceeds our own and that even when we don’t understand or disagree, we know that he knows better than we do.

-Post Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Dirty Collars via photopin (license)

There’s Wisdom In Silence – A Poem of Contemplation

4664285408_d4682f2234

There’s Wisdom In Silence – A Poem of Contemplation 

There’s wisdom in silence;
Silence breeds seeds of wisdom.
Knowledge pours in like an flowing pitcher
Of water into an empty basin
When the heart is humble and the mind is tranquil.
When the tongue is mute,
The ears of the heart can listen.

The quiet is filled with more noise
Than the roaring downtown street traffic
Until the mind is stilled and becomes clear
Like the glassy surface of a calm lake.
But yet, silence is not silent.
For beneath the still surface,
Depths of movement swirl in swift currents of contemplation.
Silt is swept away by the forces of freedom –
Detachment from worldly bonds and chains.

Wisdom speaks in silence,
For she waits patiently until the listener is humble
Before she opens her mouth.
She knows there is no sense in wasting her breath
On ears that are clogged with distractions.
I asked wisdom what I must do to receive her blessing,
And the Lord answered:

“I will fill your pockets with wisdom,
But first you must put on clean clothes.
Rags only soak up and retain the delusions
Of the ego, bound like a slave to his desires;
The foolish feed their flesh.
Shed your stained dresses –
Evidence of all your failures and messes –
And wear my clean, white garment.
Wisdom lies dormant until you can receive
And hear this teaching.
As painful as it may be to your prideful heart,
Man never gave birth to knowledge himself,
But simply became aware of it in my being.
All that you are seeing are either products of truth
Or fallacies formed by the ego
To justify remaining in the dark,
Traveling blind down the wide and easy path.
It is not my wrath you should fear,
But the seeds you are planting
And the grain you will reap.
Your house is maintained or profaned
By the company you keep.
Every action forces fate’s hand
To set a chain of events in motion.
Do not give claim to the foolish notion
That free beings can refuse reproof and disdain discipline
And merely move along merrily without repercussion.
You need not my punishment.
For you punish yourself each time you scoff at truth,
Slowly watering, unknowingly growing
The roots of destruction that will choke you from within.
Wickedness knows no other way
Than to breed pain, emptiness, death, and decay.
I will fill your pockets with wisdom,
But you must first strip off your ragged clothes.
Perfection only comes from those under my atoning garment.
But to wear it, you must face being exposed.
For it does not keep in secrets;
It does not allow your selfish heart to plot.
It is a daily reminder of your inadequacy
That when you are swept away within the currents of life
You have not the power to save yourself, but must cling to the rock.
Wisdom walks unceasingly,
Wandering through the crowded streets.
But few have eyes to see and ears to hear;
Few are the faces that she greets.
If you want her knowledge,
You must also accept her reproof.
But if you remain humble,
You shall surely taste the splendor of truth.”

There’s wisdom in silence,
But she is not loose, but haughty.
She does not strip off her secrets
Or share her bed to just anybody.
She desires the humble, the meek, and the mild
With hearts full of shame, begging to be reconciled.
Few dare to enter the gates of silence.
For they fear what their hearts will hear.
So they continue to ignore wisdom’s silent warning
And dig their own destruction year after year.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


photo credit: The Moon Legend via photopin (license)

The Lamp Light – A Christian Poem About Wisdom

8216459701_fa6b725d76

The Lamp Light – A Christian Poem About Wisdom

The lamp light is lit.
The atoning wick sucks up the anointing oil
And is overflowing,
Spreading a blazing fire within my chamber.
I am mesmerized with the knowledge of wisdom –
The calming vision that you lay upon my eyes.
Tear down these fragile, crumbling walls of pride.
Replace them with towering stones that reach up to the heavens –
A fortress of faith that is impenetrable, insurmountable, indestructible.
Place me in your royal castle of solitude –
The holy palace that glimmers in glory atop a hill.
Free me from my own destruction,
And protect me from the voices of delusion that come knocking at the gate,
Coaxing me to embrace the desires of the world, eroding my faith,
And attempting to convince me that I am a prisoner
That must be set free.
Grant me the eyes to see through the tricks of temptation.
Assure my soul that there is but one means of salvation –
That the often times lonely path filled with hardships
Is true because it is so.
Allow me to know your will when confusion strikes
And my will fights with all its might
To cling to what is temporal, easy, and immediately gratifying.
Keep this lamp lit, and may its flame never wane
Or dim against the breeze of change
Or the winds of the world.
May I call you Lord not simply in word alone,
But recognize, answer to, and serve you as a slave to master.
When disaster strikes prevent my fear from persuading me
To cut off these cords and place myself back into control.
May your lamp light my way through the often dark and confusing forest.
May its fires warm and heat my soul
In a blaze of immeasurable glory.
And may I live desiring only to live out your plans
And not to write my own story.

-Poem Written By Justin Farley


photo credit: Deepam. Festival of Lights, Chennai via photopin (license)