Fingers were poised over a piano’s keys. My heart raced as I played for the adjudicators. I knew the song. It was memorized in excruciating detail for an upcoming piano exam. But I couldn’t lock myself into the keys and the audience, out of the corner of my eye, distracted me. I played the first variation without pause but the second variation had a page turn and my mind could play to the turn and then the rest came up as blank. The swirls of black on the page disappeared! Panic! Fear! Sweaty hands!
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96:4 (NIV)
God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs. His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap; Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags. Psalm 96:4 (MSG)
Fear, the kind that makes your heart beat too fast and your knees knock together, is scary. It can dictate choices. It alters emotions. It changes plans in an instant. It is the source of many a sleepless night and a churning stomach.
But the fear of God is something entirely different. It’s not knocking my knees together but it is a respect for God and His magnificence that overarches every part of my life. It does influence every part of my life, not out of worry, but because He is so much bigger and higher than I will ever understand. It’s the reminder that He has all power to extend mercy, give grace, heal, forgive, and restore because I need all of those things in my life. This fear reminds me of how small I am and how big my God is. It humbles me. My very big and magnificent God pays attention to me. He loves me. He paid the death price for my sins knowing I could never pay it. He wants me to be in friendship with Him. Friendship that is a genuine sharing of lives and love and heart and communion. He is the One reaching out and pursuing me. Love and fear of my God go together.
So, my life is changed. I make certain choices out of love for the One who made me. I yield my plans and my decisions to His wisdom because He is wise beyond my understanding. I bring Him my tears and my joy, my hopes and my sorrows because He knows me better than I know myself. When my nights are sleepless and my stomach is churning, He wants to flood me with His peace, the surety of His presence.
My God is great! My God is love! My God is to be worshipped with the deepest reverence and devotion I can bring!