Wednesday, January 24
Fear the Lord
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to take a youth group on a retreat where there was a high ropes course. I'd never done one, but I was very excited to try it. I was never afraid of heights, and I let the anticipation of the day bubble up in me. Finally, the day arrived. I suited up, listened intently to the instructions, and then waited for my turn. I then stood at the bottom of the climbing pole, nervousited for the climb. Up I went, scurrying like a little mouse until I was half-way up the pole. And then it hit. Bam! Unnerving, debilitating fear. Out of nowhere, the thought of falling and dying soaked into ever fiber of my being and I was faced with a choice. I could give in to the fear and climb back down, or I could face the fear and continue the climb. I chose to go... up. Every step from that point included terror, sweat, and shallow breathing. I had to cross two ropes obstacles to get to the zip line that would return us safely to the ground. It took a long time and a lot of prayer. But I made it to the zip line. The instructor hooked me in and then said, "Now, just step off the ledge." Tears welled up inside as I stared at the spot on the ground where my lifeless body would lay if I fell. After a long while, the instructor invited me to sit on the ledge, and then scoot off the edge. And so I did. After the initial moment when I realized I wasn't going to die today, the rest of the zip line ride down was exhilarating! It was one of the best experiences of my life. Ever since that day, I have gone on many high ropes adventures, and I can now run around the obstacle course like I was 2 feet off the ground.
Fear isn't a bad thing. Sometimes the things we fear are bad, like abuse or a prickly boss. But fear itself is the thing that keeps us from petting a growling dog or getting into a stranger's car. Fear protects us from danger. It also helps build in us courage and resilience.
Today's psalm says, "Happy is everyone who fears the Lord." This isn't the-Lord's-gonna-get-you kind of fear. This is healthy, respectful, resilience-building fear. This is the fear that reminds us to walk in God's ways. This fear whispers in our ear when we are about to make a really bad decision and encourages us to remember who and whose we are. When we fear the Lord, we are on high alert, we think before we act, and we remember the consequences of our actions. When we fear the Lord, we become people who are happy with ourselves, who reap the rewards of positive behaviors, and who love life. So...
Narrative Lectionary Text: Psalm 128:1-2
A Song of Ascents.
Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.