At 5twelve City Church, we’ve been working through a sermon series called “Forward: From Fear to Faith.” On Sunday morning, Jurie walked us through a framework that explained the different Biblical words represented as “fear” in our English translations, along with the rational and irrational expressions of those types of fear. Jurie described three kinds of fear: Anxiety (fright), Apprehension (caution), and Awe (reverence).
Even before church on Sunday morning, my mind was churning on the concept of “wait until your father gets home” fears. Many of us grew up in households where our dads were the disciplinarians, and mom would say, “Just wait until your father gets home” when we did something naughty. While many of us grew up in very different environments, most of us have seen enough episodes of Leave It to Beaver or other old family sitcoms to imagine the fear such a statement could instill in a child.
While I was considering that phrase, I realized that the type of fear a child feels when hearing it depends, in large part, on his relationship with his dad. In the same way, I think that our fear of the Lord depends on our relationship with Him.
You have probably heard that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7a, ESV) or that “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil” (Proverbs 8:13a). Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” In general, I think Biblical references to fear of the Lord fall into the “Awe” category; if your relationship to the Lord is one of reverence regarding who He is and the power He possesses, you’re more likely to follow His commandments and carry your burdens to Him.
In a very real sense, we find ourselves in a waiting posture in relation to the Lord. Consider these verses:
Wait for the Lord;Psalm 27:14, NIV
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,Psalm 130:5, NIV
and in his word I put my hope.
While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,Titus 2:13, NIV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.Romans 8:18-19, NIV
And my personal favorite…
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.2 Timothy 4:8, NIV
In the context of each of these verses, God’s people (and His creation) are waiting for the Lord to rescue them from a bad situation – from military enemies, from personal sin, from the brokenness of the world, and from the pain inherent to living on this earth. Notice how often just these few verses refer to hope and longing. These authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are showing us a healthy relationship to the Lord – we are “waiting until our Father gets home” in awe of His justice and mercy, not with fright.
Despite the awe displayed in these verses, I know many who are waiting on the Lord in anxiety and apprehension. For some, it is the anxiety surrounding the unknown: “I don’t know what’s going to happen when Jesus comes back, and that scares me.” For others, it is the apprehension that God has the power to punish sin, as well as to reward righteousness: “I know Jesus died to cover my sin, but my sin is so great that I still fear God’s wrath.”
When you think about “waiting for the Lord,” how do you feel? Joyous? Eager? Anxious? Indifferent? Take some time to explore the ways in which you fear the Lord. Does your fear feel like anxiety, apprehension, or awe? How can you invest in your relationship with the Lord today?
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