the fear of the Lord

I was listening to Acts 9 this past week. You may be familiar with the story of Paul's conversion told here. However, I was drawn to verse 31 of that chapter where I listened to how the church experienced peace and how, "It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord." [emphasis mine]. Of course this group was living in a time where they actually knew people that saw Jesus walk into a room following his crucifixion, whose doors were locked. They heard of the guys who were traveling on the road to Emmaus with a stranger who found that after blessing their diner they recognized him as the Lord. They saw in their own synagogue, a life-long cripple get up and walk as one of the followers of Jesus Christ invited him to do in the name of Jesus Christ. There was a sense these same kind of things could happen at any moment.

Living in fear of anything is not a high value with most people I know, and yet it turns out to be a positive thing in scripture. I found that these words, "living in the fear of the Lord," are found 130 times in the New International Version of the Bible. So I am looking at each verse, though not yet finished, I find there is a theme of obedience, trust and being careful. Specifically, obeying the Lord's commands, trusting in the Lord above all else, and being careful to walk in God's ways. That really is positive.

I thought about times when I have been afraid (fearful). My senses are on high alert noticing slight movements or small sounds, even smells drifting by can capture my attention . When I am afraid I am full of care not to step in a certain place, or say certain words, or make noise. I experience a heightened consciousness, a high sense of expectation that something could happen at any moment. 

So now when I think of living in the fear of the Lord, I am thinking that it is a good thing to live with a heightened awareness of the Lord's presence, to remember what He values, His desires, and His instructions. To live looking for him to show up at any moment. It might not be in person or even as a "miracle" that I experience (all though I would not want to limit Him), but to live looking for the movements of His Spirit and the working of His ways.

I am asking the Lord to teach me to live in the fear of the Lord. Perhaps this is the beginning of wisdom as the scripture says (Proverbs 9:10).