I once shook the hand of Ronald Reagan. When I was a Senior in high school, I applied for extra credit in my Civics and Government class by volunteering for campaign duty during the months leading up to the Presidential election. I logged dozens of hours in the telephone bank by calling registered voters to encourage them to make their voice heard on November 4th that year. As a perk for participating as a volunteer, just a few weeks prior to election day I was invited, along with others of my classmates, to be present at the local airport when the Reagans were expected to arrive for a visit to my home town.
There were about two hundred people present for the event, and amazingly I found myself right next to the red rope that separated the Reagan entourage from the crowd. As they moved down the aisle, he caught my eye and reached out his hand. I was awestruck but still managed to extend my hand enthusiastically. I remember saying, “It’s an honor, sir.”
In all my young life, I had never been that close to someone that important. My heart was full nearly to bursting with admiration, respect, and yes, reverence. The definition of “reverence” in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is “profound adoring awed respect.” I know what that feels like.
Not only did I have this kind of respect for my father, I learned to have a holy fear of God because my earthly father revered the Lord and took Him seriously. I’m sure that God could have used any number of means to bring me to that healthy state of fear, but I am deeply grateful that he used my own father’s deep reverence as an example in the process.
There are many references to the fear of the Lord in Scripture. Here are some of my favorites from the Psalms:
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. (Psalm 19:9 ESV)
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. (Psalm 25:14 ESV)
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, (Psalm 33:18 ESV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. (Psalm 111:10 ESV)
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! (Psalm 128:1 ESV)
The fear of the Lord keeps me. It is a guard around my heart that keeps me sensitive to the conviction of His Spirit, so that I am quick to repent of selfishness and quick to realign myself with His expectations. Indeed, it is a constant reminder that He is serious. He means what He says, and it is only by His grace and mercy that I am living and breathing and able to respond to Him.
Mysteriously, this same deep reverence and holy fear makes it possible for me to receive His truth, His righteousness, His love and His joy. Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Like my father before me, I take God seriously. I hope you do, too.
Until next week, beloved, stay in the love of God and let the fear of God lead you into wisdom and understanding.