Today’s Daily Lesson comes from Psalm 86 verse 11:
“Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth;
knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name.”
I have a complicated relationship with the whole notion of fearing God. On the one hand, I grew up in the last days of the revival culture and I remember going to church with friends as a child and being preached at (not just to, but AT) in such a way as the terrors of hell were so plainly explicated that one would have thought the preacher might have been living there. Fear was the sermon. Fear was God. God is Fear.
I was glad for another message both from the preachers at Second B and also most of the youth ministers that hung around our schools when I was a teenager. They talked a lot more about grace than they did fear. God was not to be feared. God is Love.
Yet, at one of the most definitive moments in my life, when the path was forking in my late 20s and I was about to go one way rather than the other, it was actually the fear of the LORD that set me on what was without doubt the true and right course. I was afraid, not so much of the flames of hell, but of having to stand before God knowing that I had chosen my own way over His.
I think about that fork every time we sing “Amazing Grace” and its line “Twas grace that taught mine heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.” Every time I sing that song I give thanks for the fear and also the grace of God. For I was saved by one somehow through the other.
John Donne wrote this wonderful verse:
“The love of God begins in fear;
And the fear of God ends in love.”
I thank God for them both.