The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
“Fear of the Lord”…strange words to use as the beginning of anything let alone wisdom. It gives me the picture of Snow White running through the woods to escape the evil queen. So how is fear the beginning of wisdom? There are lots of fears in life from a child’s fear of what is under the bed, to an older adult’s fear of dementia or cancer, with all sorts of fears in between that shape our choices. Proverbs is urging us to let this fear of the Lord push aside all other fears, and let God be the one to mold our lives. But what exactly does it mean to “fear the Lord?” These words do not exactly fill me with warm fuzzies.
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. Psalms 112:1
Fearing the Lord is to delight in doing His will, because when we do that we don’t have to worry about what is coming for we know the power of God will triumph as we follow Him. And what is His command for us?
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37-40
There you are––to fear God is to love God above everything else, and love your neighbor as yourself. That is the beginning of wisdom––the way through the dark woods of life.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. Psalm 118:6-7
The Lord is with me; I am not alone.
The Lord is with me; He knows my way.
The Lord is with me; His yoke is easy and His burden light.
The Lord is with me; He will never leave me, nor forsake me.
The Lord is with me; I shall not want.
The Lord is with me; He restores my soul.
The Lord is with me; His goodness and mercy will follow me forever.
The Lord is with me, and He is the victor over all including me.
Life is like this scene along the Wenatchee River—shrouded in fog. I am often unable to see clearly to know what lies ahead. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, encourages us to to move forward not letting our past sins and fears bind us and prevent our advance.
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,…” Phil. 3:13
So I made my own list of the things I need to forget:
Past sins and failures that have been forgiven.
Past ugliness and pain.
Fear that I don’t have what it takes to keep going.
Trouble is to forget I need to replace my fears with something that encourages, and clears the fog of uncertainty as I move forward. This is why I also need to remember:
Jesus Christ died for my sins, and now I am new in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus loves me and is my faithful shepherd. (John 10:11)
God is building me up in Jesus to do good things. (Ephesians 2:10)
Nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39)
When you can’t see ahead moving forward depends on what you let your mind dwell upon. (Phil. 4:8)
I feel weak and have a fragile faith.
When I reflect on the past, I see little accomplished and am disheartened.
When I consider the present, I have trouble overcoming my tendency to procrastinate.
When I think of future, I am fearful that I will fail.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
So my past is a story of God’s great grace.
My present one of seeking help to take the next step.
My future? I try to leave in the Lord’s hands.
Struggling to accept that whatever may come is from His hand,
And He will help me through it.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
I don’t understand why I’m this way.
I am only able to stumble along letting Jesus continually catch me.
When I stand before the throne, truly it will be an act of grace.
So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you. (Matthew 25:25)
I am afraid of losing what little I have.
I am afraid I’m not smart enough.
I am afraid people will laugh at me.
I am afraid I can’t do it.
I am afraid of being alone.
I am afraid I’m a failure.
I am afraid of dying.
I am afraid that I’m afraid.
Fear is all I feel,
And my fears make me run.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
Everyone is a coward,
But the righteous run to the name given to cover our shame.
Everyone is a failure,
But the righteous run to the name for strength to start anew.
Everyone is afraid of pain and death,
But the righteous run to the name, who is the source of life.
Everyone feels fear,
But God uses our fear to bring forth faith.
Everyone has fears, but the righteous run to the name given by God to cover all our sin, weakness, and failures.
That name is Jesus, which means God saves.
Faith is running to God in the midst of our fears.