The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Fear is a terrifying emotion.
I know this from personal experience. In my late teens and early twenties, I experienced unrelenting panic attacks. I remember the first one like it was yesterday. I was a nurse’s aide at a nursing home and was attending to a frail elderly woman when suddenly, a weird sensation came over me. I felt this sense of darkness like a veil had fallen over my face. At the same time, my heart began beating wildly and I was having a hard time catching my breath. For a moment, I thought that maybe I was dying.
That was the first of hundreds of panic attacks I would experience over the next five years. Many were much more terrifying than the first. By the time I was in nursing school, I was convinced I had one disease or another. I became a bonafide hypochondriac. Then, during our psychology unit, I was convinced that I also had one or more mental disorders. I was a walking basket case and only made it to classes by taking large doses of Valium.
Except for thrill seekers, most people flee from that which they fear. If you fear heights, you stay away from the edge. If you fear large dogs, you cross the street when you see one approaching. If you fear being rejected, you avoid intimacy. In my dark days, I feared…fear! But, how do you run from something you cannot identify? I learned that you run toward the One and only “thing” worth fearing – a Person – God! God used my free floating, incomprehensible fear to draw me to Himself!
Fearing God is different is a very different kind of fear.
Those of us who have a saving faith in Jesus Christ have been pardoned from all our sins and can now approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Does our salvation negate our need to fear God? Apparently not, as Luke writes in Acts 9:31 “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit; it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”
Fearing God in the life the believer, is part “reverence and awe” and part “trembling and quaking” as we consider the immensity and omnipotence of the God we love and serve. If we take His incredible grace for granted and believe we no longer need to fear Him; we are mistaken. While the blood of Christ has cleansed us from all sin and secured our place in heaven; we must live knowing that the God who loves us enough to send His one and only Son to die for us; will also discipline us as he molds us into the image of Christ.
When we have a healthy fear of the Lord balanced with a great confidence that comes from his mercy and grace found only in Christ – we have the beginning of wisdom. And as we come to know Him through His word and prayer; our understanding grows.
Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me; seemed insufficient for the day.”
Realizing our insufficiency and “fearing the Lord” allows us to be open to His teaching and divine guidance. Those who think they have all the answers are often tripped up by their own arrogance and self-sufficiency. Fear of the Lord requires a humble, open spirit that constantly acknowledges God’s sovereignty and total wisdom. It is in that state of fear and awe that God can use us most profoundly.
Wisdom and understanding come to a heart that has a healthy fear of God and is committed to applying His precepts. Corrie Ten Boom said, “Don’t worry about what you do not yet understand…worry about what you do understand but do not live by”.
I am so thankful that God used my fear and panic attacks to draw me to Him. I realized that my only hope for wholeness would be found in Him. If you want to hear a bit more about my testimony and how I came to accept Jesus, watch the short video below.
Dear Lord, You are all powerful, all knowing, all encompassing. You are mighty to be feared. Forgive me when I have taken your mercy and grace for granted and not given you the reverence and fear you so deserve. I bow my heart in awe of you today and pray your forgiveness for my arrogance. You alone are God. You alone are worthy to be praised. I will love and fear you all the days of my life. Thank you for extending your mercy and grace to me – once a sinner – now a saint! In Jesus name, Amen.
What do you most fear in life? Take that fear to the Lord and ask Him to give you wisdom and peace so you can replace it with a healthy and reverent fear of only Him.