Tomorrow evening, two of my three daughters will don costumes and head out with friends for fun and frivolity as they move throughout the neighborhood begging candy, sweets and treats from kind strangers and distant acquaintances.
Some people go all out for Halloween. They love to decorate with wispy webs and creepy cauldrons. There are even some people who pay other people to scare them in haunted houses or on spooky trails. These people actually like being afraid and they celebrate Halloween for a fun of fear.
Personally, I don’t like to be scared. I don’t like the stress and worry that comes with being afraid. Casper the Friendly Ghost and an artistically carved pumpkin are more my speed. And I am all about any holiday that is centered around my very favorite food group – CANDY!
God’s Word has a lot to say about fear – not fearing, not having a spirit of fear, not approaching God with timidity and fear, but it also talks a lot about another kind of fear when we are called to “fear the Lord.”
In Proverbs 31, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This lady is known for her reverence of God’s commands and her awe for His character as it is displayed throughout her life in the everyday, mundane moments, not just the extraordinary ones that seem to alter the course of her days.
This kind of fear is what the Psalms say is the beginning of wisdom:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever.”
Jen Wilkin, in her study “None Like Him,” talks about the truth of even the inverse of this verse. She points out that “The fear of man is the beginning of folly,” and I couldn’t agree with her more. When we start esteeming acceptance and approval of others rather than resting in what we have in the Lord, we can begin to get ourselves into all kinds of trouble.
I have also found that I can place my dreams and expectations on pedestals and fear them with reverence and awe. Not that I am scared to attempt to make them reality, but rather, I esteem them higher than I should, seeing them as my goals, and making them my priority instead of seeking first God and His ways, means and plans.
Recently, I have been faced with some pretty big, day-to-day life altering decisions. While I have become sure of the main thing God would have me to do, the details still remain a little fuzzy and I find myself wishing for an itemized list of instructions where God’s will would be crystal clear to provide the specifics of exact dates and explicit words I should use. When? How? Now? Later? How much later?
It is in the fear of the Lord, I am finding the answers I need. I need wisdom. This verse says that wisdom begins with fear, fearing the Lord.
What does it mean to fear the Lord? What does that look like?
This type of fear is not the emotion that we associate with October 31. This type of fear is what the Proverbs 31 woman is praised for. This type of fear puts all other fears in their place – under the authority of the One who tells us not to fear.
Actively, fearing the Lord means to worship – not only through praise music and cooperate gatherings of the saints, but by an intentional perspective that motivates actions and feeds the mind with truth, with hope and with wisdom.
As I intentionally turn my mind’s focus on what I know about God and why He is worthy of worship, I have to acknowledge in my heart who He is and how I relate to Him. The fear of man fades to the background, the faith I need replaces fear and I am filled with the wisdom I need.
In addition to a steady diet of God’s Word, when I am tempted to reverence something or someone other than the Lord, I need to be more willful to fear Him even more. Instead of escaping into a movie or novel, I try to listen to that recommended podcast, dig a little deeper in that study, work on memorizing that passage of scripture, or really pray – talking and listening too.
I’d like to say I am good at this whole fearing the Lord thing. I’d like to be praised for it. There are encouraging friends of mine that would bolster my ego and say sweet things, but alas, that would most definitely put me on the edge of fearing man, and tempt me all the more to seek their praise.
God has yet to reveal all the wisdom I am seeking. (Honestly, the more of His wisdom I seek the more I realize there is limitless wisdom to be found in Him.) I need some questions answered and discernment given. So, until He answers the specifics that I lack, I will focus my time and attention on the object of my fear. I will actively seek to fear Him all the more.
As I fear Him, He has proven Himself to be faithful. He provides the wisdom as I fear Him because He is all wise. He provides peace as I fear Him because He is the Prince of Peace. He provides faith as I fear Him because His promises prove over and over again to be true.
This Halloween has been all about fear for me, but not the kind of fear that one might expect.
Who or what are you fearing this October 31st?
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