What is the definition of a McElhannon? We are God fearing, BOLD, grateful, seeking, FUN, chatty, kinda maybe a little crazy and caring. Nowhere in that description does it say SICK. Justin may be sick...but that is NOT what defines him. The definition of Justin is ambitious, hard working, really HOT, excited and hungry. Our lives are forever changed by his medical situation and diagnosis' BUT we will not let that be what defines him. Just like Brody having downs syndrome is NOT what defines him. Him having DS is the least interesting thing about it. Its an important part of his life and it shapes some things about him...but its not WHO he is. We have to wake up each morning and remember that NONE of us have a prognosis. The Lord has all of that already mapped out. And we just flat out do not get to know. He promises to love us and never leave our sides. That is good enough for us.
Do You Really Fear The Lord?
“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction” Proverbs 1:7
I have read this passage and heard it taught on numerous times, shoot, I have taught on it numerous times. Most of the time we approach it as, that when we have a “fear” or “awe” of who God is then it is the beginning of knowledge because we begin to listen to God and respond as He instructs. This is completely true and in no way would I argue with that interpretation or application. However, many times when we approach or teach the scriptures we only get a part of the story. This has happened for centuries and leads people to be disillusioned with the scriptures and want more, want deeper, etc. Most of the time what people are looking for is the fullness of the scripture or that part they know is there but that too many times we are afraid to dig into. I believe this idea exist in the way we typically approach the “fear of the Lord” and how it leads to knowledge. As result many times it leaves us more like fools even though we may be truly in awe of God. Hang with me for a second and see if this begins to make sense.
You see to truly approach God as described in the scriptures naturally produces an amount of fear or awe for us because we are forced to encounter the one true supreme entity or being. As described in the scriptures there is nothing that holds power over God in any way, he is all knowing, all powerful, outside of time and space. How we normally take the fear of the Lord is that I better listen to this God and do as he says so that he will be pleased with me, reward me, etc. Again, I am all about pursuing obedience to God as result of whom He is and that He, in Jesus, sacrificed for me to be able to know him. I want to please him because He has loved me so graciously.
What if there is another aspect to this that would change the way we live, especially in our American Christian Culture? What if the fear of the Lord also entailed that God can do anything and allow us to go through anything? I think for the most part we,me included, really struggle with this idea. If I love God, and follow him, shouldn’t He make my life more convenient, easier, with more toys I like, more time to play, healthier, wealthier, and wiser? Well the reality is although God promises to provide for our needs as we seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33) he does not define that in the context as what is most comfortable to us American Christians. In fact, the New Testament is filled with promises of persecution and suffering for surrendering to and following Jesus. We see it exemplified in the apostles, the prophets, the Biblical Heroes throughout scripture. What if the fear of the lord producing knowledge has as much or more to with the reality that God does not owe us our preferred level of comfort? How does the idea that you are not entitled to anything for those who believe beyond His presence, persecution, suffering, and growth that is produced from it? After all most of Jesus’ best friends died horrible martyrs’ deaths.
What then if the beginning of knowledge comes when we fear God enough to not live as though we are entitled to time, wealth, processions, and favor from people? Allow me to indulge you in a real-life applicable example that I am currently going through. I currently have the privilege of serving as a church planter/pastor with The Crossing in Bulverde/Spring Branch/Canyon Lake, TX. It has been an amazing journey and I have been privileged to serve on staff full-time as we have launch The Crossing that God lead us to step out in faith and plant. God is doing some amazing things, we have seen families transformed, people surrender to Jesus, people follow Jesus, families serve and grow. It has been awesome. At the same time in the very immediate future I may need to find a job because the resources (outside of God providing a miracle) are not there or projected to be there for me to remain on staff full-time. How I fear the Lord in this situation is to seek him earnestly in prayer knowing that all is at his disposal, to continue to pursue the kingdom, it’s growth, be transformed by God’s righteousness through his grace, and understand that God does not owe me anything.
You see I could be angry and frustrated with God, “God we have stepped out in faith, we are pursuing your kingdom and a part of its growth, why haven’t you provided.” That would be the typical response whether we face a job loss/change, sickness, souring of relationships, natural disasters, etc. This is how I think this all comes together though. To truly fear God is to know that he can take away all of our comforts in the blink of an eye, and instead to chose how I will live today. The knowledge we are able to take away from fearing God is that we should not be wasting time, that we are not victims, that we are not entitled, but that we have graciously been given this moment and these resources. I trust God will provide for my needs and I can find peace in that, but my needs may not be defined as liberally as I have defined them, just look around to the rest of the world.
Today, you and I have the choice, will you fear that God is truly God and the reality of what he promises in this life? Will you allow that reality, true reality, to produce in you a Godly understanding that leads you to respond with Godly wisdom today? Will you pursue the kingdom and his righteousness today knowing that the comfort you have today may not be available tomorrow? We all face life’s challenges and we all must decide, do I truly fear the Lord. When we do, respond with urgency, passion, truth, and grace for his kingdom’s sake and growing in his righteousness. Do not allow the circumstances of your life to push away from God, to make you a fool, but live in God’s reality and experience God’s best. Only go into knowing full well, God’s best typically comes through his truth, his grace, and the experiences he promises of persecution and suffering. Fear the God of the universe today and recognize him as whom he is, not one indebted to you, but that you are the one indebted to him because of his great love.