Dear Church Family,
It was a nightmare. We had been through an air raid drill at my elementary school that day, and at the sound of the siren practiced dropping to our knees under our desks and putting our hands on the back of our necks, crouching as low as we could. As if such rudimentary efforts would have protected us from a nuclear detonation.
That night I had a nightmare. I dreamed I was at school, looking out the window (something I spent way too much time doing in those days), when on the horizon there was a series of blinding explosions, followed by mushroom-topped columns of smoke rising swiftly into the orange sky.
I wanted desperately to get home but they wouldn’t let us go, and when I finally broke free from the school, I could not find my way through all the debris and confusion, though I tried and tried. I woke up panting, my heart pounding, petrified and in full fight or flight mode.
How glad I was to look around through eyes rimmed with tears, to find that it was just a nightmare, that I was in my own bed, in the comfort and safety of my home; but I can still see the images from that nightmare in my mind’s eye.
It is amazing the way fear can impact us both physically and emotionally. It can make people act irrationally, it can be crippling, and it can trigger courage or boldness in unexpected ways. It is also interesting to see what generates fear in the hearts and minds of men and women. Take noises for an example. It can be either a small sudden noise in the night, or a low, ominous hum, or a loud, deafening sound that can startle you fearfully awake.
Sometimes it is not the nature of the sound, but the content of the words we hear that can create fear. When we hear some news, it immediately fills us with dread, while other news sounds ominous or threatening.
There is so much news flying about right now in our world that we hardly know how to react to what we hear. Because we are exposed to so much more these days—seeing and hearing fearful things as they happen—we can become either numb or overwhelmed. Actually, neither is appropriate, especially for the believer.
It is our fear or reverence for God that should temper and control our fear of all things. I can remember, even as a little boy, not being haunted by that nightmare because I had been taught by my parents, my grandparents and faithful men and women in the church that my God was in control of all things and that nothing could, or would happen without Him, and that He had made me His own and would take care of me in this world and the next.
This is the meaning behind passages such as…
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Your fear or reverence of God, even as children, shapes your world view and helps you to escape what could have been a debilitating and irrational fear. Another verse in Proverbs puts it this way:
Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.
While we seldom think of it, fear is often related to an atheistic view of the world. It is often the result of ultimately believing that men and women are the masters or the victims of their own actions—as if events and their outcomes are without control and we are subject to whatever horrors or threats they impose. There is, says Bridges, no homage to God in fear, and so it breeds torment.
But the fear of God produces just the opposite effect – it produces joy and peace.
Proverbs 1:33 “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.”
After I finished this update, I had occasion to see Kim Zeiger’s Facebook page and the new image that she has put up and it is in perfect sync with today’s update. It is just providential that the two things should come at the same time, but the motto she has included is good one for any believer. As my sign off on my e-mails says, “Fear God and dread nought.”