"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”Psalms 23:1
I love a good British murder mystery. In fact, much of my time during the lockdowns of 2020 were spent doing puzzles while watching the folks across the pond “do each other in” in any number of mysterious ways. And as I write this, I’m deep in a modern day mystery set in a British lord and lady’s castle.
As an American, I find the hierarchical system of British life fascinating. There is a definite caste-like system with every day, less educated people almost bowing their heads to those who are “Oxford Educated” or come from some land owning blood. And while I don’t pretend that fiction is complete reality the theme does run throughout novels and television, whether set in modern times or not.
At times this deference arises out of fear – fear of losing a livelihood usually – and other times out of thankfulness for generosity. While other times it just simply stems from an ingrained respect for our “betters.”
The other day I heard a Christian teacher ask, “How many of us accepted the gift of salvation but have yet to accept Jesus as your Lord?”
And of course, God kept making this point with me the last few days. On day 2 of my new Bible study the concept of having a healthy “fear” of the Lord was the topic.
“The way we relate to the Lord demonstrates the respect we have for Him.”
He Speaks To Me
So today I praise God and His Son Jesus for being my Lord. For being the type of Lord who provides for our needs. For being a gracious landowner and allowing us to be its tenants. For being the type of Lord that is above reproach and deserves our deference. He is the Lord above all lords.
At times of peril we can seek His protection behind His castle walls. At times of abundance He will join in with us in celebration. And when we grieve He grieves with us.
We upstarts in the United States tore ourselves away from the concept of bowing before lords and ladies. To almost a fault we have no respect for “position.” I wonder if that makes it harder for us to bow our heads to the one who deserves our utmost respect? When we get told to “obey” it tends to raise our hackles.
As a Christian I need to put aside any cultural history I may have in my genes and remember that God sits above me, deserving of all glory and honor.
From the west, people will fear the
name of the Lord, and from the rising
of the sun, they will revere his glory. Isaiah 59:19
I admit it. I have a difficult time with authority. I don’t like being told what to do and when to do it. I’m not sure how this developed in me. It’s not like, as a child, my parents encouraged me to question. In fact, we weren’t to question at all for fear of punishment. I’ve heard it said that we either grow up to be like our parents or work so desperately to be the opposite. For me, I think I so wanted to be heard and to be “right” for once that the desire became my personality.
This desire has helped me in many ways. At work I was always seen as someone with new solutions and ideas. I could cut through red tape and simplify processes. And until I garnered some maturity, I did all that like a bull in a china shop. But this way of living life can make it difficult to submit, especially to a force that is unseen.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of
knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and
When you read Proverbs the very first words are about wisdom and instruction. And sure, we can study our Bibles, listen intently to our pastors while scribbling notes in our Bibles but true submission to our Lord is more than that.
For a long time, I really just didn’t understand the concept of “fearing the Lord” and submission. Of course, given my nature it wasn’t like I was interested in the first place. I also wonder how many pastors these days even talk about “fearing God?”
If God is love, then why does He command us to fear Him? The fear of the Lord isn’t about being afraid of God; it’s about revering Him above all else. When we do that, we position ourselves to receive all the benefits that come with putting God first in our lives.
Dr. Charles Stanley
We humans are afraid of a lot of things – some of which we don’t even realize. We fear being made fun of, we fear being left out, we fear being unloved. I saw a movie that really brought this concept home called Defending Your Life. The main character, played by Albert Brooks, is a worrier. His fears become so overwhelming that he is stuck in a never-ending loop of inaction and regret. And then he gets hit by a bus. He finds himself in a waystation of sorts where he needs to defend the pitiful life he had on earth. And he meets a wonderful woman played by Meryl Streep. She’s opposite of him – jumped in on all that life had to offer.
It struck me that our days are filled with decisions that are made either based on fear of the world or fear of God. Do we go about our lives trying to keep our head down so the world and people around us won’t take issue with us? Or do we acknowledge that our Lord is sovereign over all and He has behavioral and moral requirements of us? Do we submit to the flesh or to the spirit?
Jesus calls us to his rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.
I’ve come to acknowledge that while it is okay to call Jesus, “Rabbi,” or teacher I also need to call Him, “My Lord.” Because when I do it places Him above me, above all. When I call Him, “My Lord,” it means I need to submit to His will. My fear comes in as a concern that I want to be sure to serve Him and Him alone. Am I living a life that would please Him, not the world?
I don’t want to be like that Albert Brooks character when I face my Lord. Full of regret for having missed opportunities to place God as my life director.
I have a friend who is fascinated by all things British royal family. She knows just about everything you’d want to know about the monarchy. Shouldn’t we be that way about our one true Lord? Sitting in awe at His feet. Anxiously awaiting His orders. At the ready to do His bidding. Hoping to please Him at every turn. And fearing His disappointment.
By faith Noah, when warned about things
not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark
to save his family.Hebrews 11:7
If there were ever a man who had a lot to fear when it came to being judged by the people around him it was Noah. I mean, what a lunatic! Building a giant boat with no water to be seen. His “holy fear” kept him aligned with the will of his Lord.
It’s so easy to fall into a humdrum world-centered life. And it’s easy to make our prayer and worship life be rote. But if we can just picture that each morning when we rise, we step into our Lord’s magnificently built palace. Are you ready to approach His throne and submit to His Holy authority? Are you sitting in awe at His feet today, marveling at His awesome power and might? Let’s all sing at the top of our lungs today in worship of our Lord — and let the world tease us. We know who is smiling.
I don’t know about you but I sure can use some stability this year. As a child my life, viewed from the outside, looked very stable. My parents were married, we had a nice home, two kids, dogs, cats, a little garden in the backyard. I was a Girl Scout and did well in school. And I felt so alone.
I blamed all my family problems on moving from the Los Angeles area down to San Diego when I was in 4thgrade. Everything seemed to change. My mom was extremely unhappy and angry so often and my father rarely spoke. My brother was fast approaching a time when the hidden timebomb of a manic-depressive disorder would take over his life. My parents weren’t what you might call a “team.” Having the benefit of hindsight, I realize now it had nothing to do with the move and everything to do with a lack of a solid rock within our family unit.
Not being raised in a Christian (or any faith) environment I found myself searching for stability through my parents and then friends and boyfriends. As my mother’s own mental health issues began coinciding with my brother’s, the atmosphere around my house became so volatile so I searched for peace and love through insecure friendships and lopsided romantic relationships. This led to competitive relationships and risky sexual behavior. All the while I longed for a firm foundation to set my hopes, my fears, and my need to find joy.
Thankfully, through God and a wonderful husband, I have found that “sure foundation,” as written by the prophet Isaiah. The promise God makes in this passage is that He is our solid rock, He is the stability for which we all yearn. He is the same today as he was yesterday. And He will be the same tomorrow. There’s no rug pulled out from under us. There’s no switching of loyalties. There’s no character flaw that suddenly comes to light and bites us. He is perfect. He is solid. He is the “rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.”
Lest we miss the agreement part of this promise let me remind you of the last sentence of Isaiah 33:5-6: “The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” There’s that other half of the covenant. Our part in this relationship requires us to exalt God and respect His place in the universe. He is God and we are not. And when we try to place others above Him, they will surely crumble, at some point.
I was reading today about an astronaut’s “lifeline.” NASA (the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) considers there to be two lifeline systems for astronauts:
“From lift off through landing, the astronauts aboard the Shuttle along with the thousands of people supporting the flight on Earth depend on NASA’s team of experts to manage this complex communication system. Maintaining good communications is critical. The lifeline is comprised of two systems – a ground-based network composed of communication stations, and a space network operating orbiting satellites. As the Shuttle orbits the Earth, the NASA team monitors and continually adjusts the communication pathways to ensure that command, tracking, telemetry, video, and voice communications are clear and secure. “
I like that visual – a large team of incredibly talented people making sure our astronauts in space are able to accomplish their mission goals and come home safely. As Christians we have our own talented team that makes up our solid rock – God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.John 14:1
When we live in constant communication with our Holy team, they can continually monitor our progress, provide a firm foundation, and keep us on the right track – completing the mission and bringing us safely home.