Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reclaiming Fear

Horror, carnage, and senseless violence.  All of these combine to haunt sleep and dreams as the envelope continues to be pushed further and further into fearful depravity for entertainment's sake.  Audiences with an appetite that cannot be satiated lust for more and greater grotesque imagery, greater visions of slaughter and more shocking story lines.  In morbid fascination we are drawn like moths.  Read the listing of films currently playing at the local cinema.  There will be at least one that presses into the demonic, the horrific or the distasteful.  We all know at least one person who will be drawn to that film.  This trickles into our homes as television programming caters to the crime drama and the bloodthirsty and deranged hold the spotlight.  One begins to wonder in our society; when does fiction follow fact and where does fact begin to follow fiction? 

More innocently, the thrill-ride experience that realigns the spine raising the passenger to dizzying heights just before plummeting them earth-ward at uncomfortable velocities.  Turns and loops disorient the horrizonal perspective of the thrill-seeker and they step away from the experience often seeking to do it again.  Our dance with fear is difficult to comprehend.  We loathe fear yet we pursue it.

But we also need it.

A small child marvels that the parent regularly prepares food on the cook top, making tasty meals.  Commercials have played over and over showing the toy cake ovens.  This child decides to try their hand at the stove when mom is not looking, even though they've been warned not to.  The resultant burn is a lesson that instills pain, wisdom, and fear in the form of a healthy respect for that which is hot and which is off limits.

My own children are admonished on the "fear" of consequences.  Choosing right and wrong is sometimes difficult for young minds and often the repercussions of incorrect choices need to be laid out so that informed decision making can occur.  Very often, fear of negative consequence is the deterrent that borders good behavioral choice. 

Though beneficial, these later definitions of fear, like the previous, revolve around aspects of dread or terror towards consequence or pain.  There is another definition for fear that does not make its way into our vocabulary in modern vernacular but is, none-the-less, as important as the remembered burn or the judicious avoidance of loss.  It is the fear that entails awe and veneration, commanding honour and respect in the sheer weight of its magnificence and majesty. 

This is the proclaimed "fear of the Lord" as admonished in Proverbs 1:7.  It is not the dread of retaliation or terror of destruction, but the swell of awe, gratitude, and honour that accompanies the pondering of One who led millions in a column of flame through a desert from captivity, has named the stars He birthed, and designed with meticulous detail the very molecules that are currently supporting yours and my lives.  

But this fear is something that for many, including myself, often wanes, ebbing and flowing in the business of our lives.  We will read our Bibles, attend our churches, even sing our hymns and worship choruses; but too often we are moving through an exercise rather than considering in awe the being that is giving us our next breath, commanding His hosts to guard our steps.  Often we disassociate our morning "quiet time" with the rest of our day not realizing this time of prayer or reflection is simply the precursor to carry over into days in which our entire existence is a walking act of worship.  For this, many of my days are found lacking as fear is replaced with fret, awe is usurped by agendas, worries substitute worship, and honour is supplanted by the hour-hand. 

And as the child forgetting what awaits eager hands at the top of a heated stove, so too we forget the peril of letting slip this reverent fear of our Savior, this awe and respect for the One who lay dead in the grave, entered Hell and reclaimed our eternity.  Loving us as always, he does not hold this against us - but what a wonderful thing it might be if in loving, respectful, awe-filled fear, we each regularly reached for Him and worshipped the limitless grandeur of His Majesty not for what He has done for us, but simply because of who He is.   This is fear worth having.

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men!
Psalm 31:19 AMP

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