The fear of the Lord: reverential shock and awe

CrackinSpaceWhat does the fear of the Lord look like through the lens of love? For His perfect love truly casts out all our orphan-hearted fear (1 John 4:18).

I would call it reverential shock and awe. And it truly is the beginning of wisdom.

This fear of the Lord comes through a personal encounter with the living God. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like having the fabric of the time-space continuum itself ripped wide open before your eyes, revealing a great otherness, a multifaceted reality so much more real than your mind can take in. Indeed, you realize that you have not realized anything at all before this moment!

For this brief instant you’re suddenly thrust into something so stunning, so shocking, so overwhelming, that you know you’ll really never recover from the experience. And you don’t want to.

This moment, like a slice of pure light, suspended outside of time and space, seems like a lifetime. And it will take more than a lifetime to fully comprehend.

This is why it must be experienced; it defies explanation.

Suddenly, Jesus is so much bigger, more brilliant, more beautiful, more glorious, more resplendent, more magnificent and majestic than your thoughts could ever imagine…yet, He’s so much more tender and intimate, so close and so full of love that you can sense Him in your breath. Every cell in your body is resonating with manifested glory.

I sometimes wonder if all our attempts in worship to make God bigger and more transcendent in our minds we, instead, make Him so “high and lifted up” that we lose sight of Him altogether. Does our lofty view of Him cause us to hide in fear, keeping our distance from Him? Do we not also see our identification with Him…in Him?

A fear of God that does not profoundly restore our true identity in Him and bring deeper intimacy in relationship with Him is both unhealthy and dysfunctional.

If we don’t hold God’s transcendency and our intimacy with Him in divine tension, we will not be transformed. We will inevitably become religious…but, as Robert Capon once said, the revelation of Jesus Christ means the end of our religion.

This transcendent fear of the Lord reveals to us that we are indeed filled with the fullness that fills God! It’s a function of pure unconditional love that, as Paul said, is so much higher, deeper, and wider than our thoughts could ever fully contain.

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Eph.3:17-20 NASB)

This apocalypse, this unveiling, massively unmasks us, beholds us and heals us, penetrating our soul so much more pervasively than even our deepest desires would ever permit. It’s quick and electrifying like a flash of lightning, it catches us naked and unaware, short-circuiting the brain and enlivening the heart. Like Ezekiel by the river Chebar and John on the Isle of Patmos, our body has lost all its strength, yet our heart is pounding fast and we feel like we’ve really come alive for the very first time.

This paradoxical experience is both frightful and ecstatically joyful.

You have just encountered something so instantaneous, so surreal, yet so much more real than reality itself. Truly, He can love us more in a moment than other lovers can in a lifetime.

The fear of the Lord is being like a little child laying in the soft grass on a warm summer night, looking up into the celestial vastness with all your senses overloaded by the myriad of stars and galaxies. You realize how incredibly small you are in the scheme of things, but at the same time, how significant you are in your Father’s eyes and how safe and secure you feel in His loving embrace.

You begin to understand how David felt when he penned these words…

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! (Psalm 8:3-5 NASB)

After these precious moments with God, I always wonder if I ever really knew Him at all. The change in my soul is so significant, it’s like I’ve just been born-again…again.

Yet, my heart has always known Him, for it is fully satisfied with fullness of joy in the river of His ultimate pleasures…buoyed by grace in His overflowing liquid love.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light. (Psalm 36:7-9 NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom because you are forever ruined for anything other than glory and majesty. No passing counterfeit that this world can offer will ever satisfy again because you have just experienced the knowledge of the Holy One.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
This entry was posted in Heaven on earth, Love, The Shift, Uncategorized, Worship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to The fear of the Lord: reverential shock and awe

  1. Florian says:

    Best description if the fear of the Lord I ever read…

  2. Great post. Do I detect some Doctor Who references here? Jesus…bigger on the inside (like the Tardis) and the image looks very familiar too. 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ha ha…I do believe the graphic designer definitely got their inspiration from Doctor Who. I think he was dealing with a similar crack in time. And, yes, like the Tardis, God is definitely bigger on the inside! But my question is, does God even have an outside? Hmmmmm? 🙂
      But the rip in the fabric of time, while making a good D.W. episode, is also an apt description of what an encounter with God feels like. A “then suddenly”…peering into eternity for a moment that feels like a lifetime!

      Thanks for the kudos and the Doctor Who reference. Loved it.

  3. Lance says:

    “This fear of the Lord comes through a personal encounter with the living God. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like having the fabric of the time-space continuum itself ripped wide open before your eyes, revealing a great otherness, a multifaceted reality so much more real than your mind can take in. Indeed, you realize that you have not realized anything at all before this moment!”

    You are a poet Mel.

    The ecstatic, mystical, contemplatives have always understood this. Those that have sought God and found Him discover they couldn’t find Him in their own effort but could only be willingly carried along to the place of unknowing. Then their encounters were always beyond our outside words. This transcendent reality rooted in paradox was the substance of awe. They all knew more deeply and were more solidly grounded in the divine creation love, but the magnitude exceeded the capacity to process. Yeah, a touch from God as He is, not as we imagine Him, will leave you speechless and dumbstruck. Yay God!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Lance. Much appreciated. 🙂

      “This transcendent reality rooted in paradox was the substance of awe.” That’s spot-on, bro! It’s this awe what ignites our hearts and forever ruins us for anything else.

      And, yes, “speechless and dumbstruck” really says it all! I think the mystics became mystics because of these kinds of encounters. Ruined for the ordinary, they were forever looking for “another fix,” this “other world” reality that had so captured their hearts and informed their view of the world around them. For it’s from these encounters that our hearts are truly tenderized and purified so that we can see people and love them like Jesus.

  4. Saskia Hart says:

    Mel… this is amazing. beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. Beautifully worded. It’s like you’ve put some words to things I couldn’t. Trying to describe this kind of love is like trying to capture all the beauty of a sunset with an old polaroid camera. I love how your description of the fear of God sounds like describing infinite love (it’s the same thing!!) Maybe it’s “scary” partly because it’s so unknown. Maybe we’re afraid it can’t really be true. It’s really true though. .isn’t that amazing? Can we even begin to fathom this kind of love?

    “This apocalypse, this unveiling, massively unmasks us, beholds us and heals us, penetrating our soul so much more pervasively than even our deepest desires would ever permit. It’s quick and electrifying like a flash of lightning, it catches us naked and unaware, short-circuiting the brain and enlivening the heart. Like Ezekiel by the river Chebar and John on the Isle of Patmos, our body has lost all its strength, yet our heart is pounding fast and we feel like we’ve really come alive for the very first time.”

    That’s so beautiful. Thanks Mel!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Saskia, for your wonderful comments. Much appreciated. To me, the scary, or frightening, part of the fear of the Lord is not fear of punishment at all, as some have taught. His love completely frees us from this kind of fear that keeps us in hiding from God (1 John 4:17). It’s that He’s SO much bigger, shockingly so, and so much more “other-than,” than we ever imagined in our wildest dreams. He’s like seeing an incoming “love hurricane!” So big and so overwhelming, yet you know you’ll be safe in the middle of it. 🙂

      “Trying to describe this kind of love is like trying to capture all the beauty of a sunset with an old polaroid camera.” Actually, you’ve put some very good words to it here, Saskia! Amen!

  5. waltsamp says:

    Having suggested a couple years ago that you should write a book I am happy that you have done so. I think I should get a copy and read it. Also, somewhat along the lines of your post, my wife recently experienced God speaking to her. He told her “Welcome home, child of God.” It has made a big change in her life. She has been a Christian for a long time but she still had doubts at times about her salvation and was uncertain about telling her relatives and others about her Christian experiences. Now she is finding the presence of Christ everywhere. This morning it was in a fourth-century hymn by St. Ambrose. This has been a blessing to us both.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your encouragement for me to write a book (working on another one now), and this such a wonderful testimony about your wife! I love hearing how God touches hearts and changes everything. This is why opening our hearts to experiencing His love is so important, It removes the fear that keeps us in doubt. Thanks for sharing this. Blessings.

  6. bullroarin says:

    Great post Mel…and you’re right. The fear of the Lord is (only) the beginning of wisdom.

    “After these precious moments with God, I always wonder if I ever really knew Him at all. The change in my soul is so significant, it’s like I’ve just been born-again…again.”

    This is so good Mel…like being made alive to the Lord in ever greater revelation….moving from glory to glory, and not our glory, but in His glory.

    Love the Robert Capon quote….I flushed twice, just to make sure!! lol!

    ~ Dave

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Dave. Yes, this encounter called the fear of the Lord is the beginning of a wonder-filled journey, going from glory to glory. It’s really what our life in Christ is supposed to be like…and it’s all His glory. We’re experiencing more and more of His life in the Father, which is, by definition, “eternal life” (John 17:3).

      Loved the “flushed twice” comment. Another good Capon reference on what to do with our “religion pills!” Amen. 🙂

  7. Mel, “The change in my soul is so significant, it’s like I’ve just been born-again…again.” And again and again and again. Each time I encounter Him it’s a wonderful and warm surprise. My heart is warmed, my eyes are filled with tears and I am speechless. It truly is incomprehensible with simply my mind, but only ascertainable through my entire body, my heart and my soul.

  8. Heidi Viars says:

    Hey, didn’t know you are a Whovian … wonderfully written!

  9. Pingback: Fasting from fear | In My Father's House

  10. Brother Mel, I loved the whole article and especially how you laid out the importance of truly loving to truly gain our identification with Him. It is only through that relationship or even the beginning of it that we can truly start to answer that age old question, “why am I here?”

    I also loved this, “If we don’t hold God’s transcendency and our intimacy with Him in divine tension, we will not be transformed. We will inevitably become religious…” Without being condemning, the fact remains that today we have an epidemic of “religious-ness” and not enough of the relationship with which our Heavenly Father wants with us! I can honestly say that I love Him more today than I did yesterday and I understand His love for me more today than I did yesterday and yet the “shock and awe” only become greater the more I do relate to Him, intimately! In a small way, it’s like when a person gets married to someone they already think is great and as they get closer and more in tune, they see even more so the greatness that is in them!

    Love it Brother, God bless for this!!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Roland. I really appreciate your comments. And AMEN on needing more relationship! No more hiding behind religion and keeping our distance because of the wrong kind of fear. He’s not only amazing and bigger than we can imagine, He’s a GOOD Father! That’s why I write. 🙂
      Blessings to you as well.

  11. Mystic Mel!
    Was having a “Glory Group” meeting with the 7 Spirits of God and we discussed a Consulting Council of 7 for this Massive vision we have!
    YOU were 1 of the 7, representing The Fear of The Lord.
    With this being one of the most insightful and profound explanations of The Fear of The Lord, you possess insight we are seeking after!
    We would Love for you to act as a consultant for the vision of 70 Heavenly Sovereign Nations!
    This is like an enrollment appetizer!

    Perfect Love!

    ○ wonder and awe of God
    ¤ Seals us for position
    ¤ Accountability of position

    ¤ Holiness
    ¤ Reverence
    ¤ righteousness
    ¤ Accountability of position
    ¤ brings divine order around us

  12. Pingback: True worship is a response to God | In My Father's House

  13. Pingback: The Cosmic Christ | In My Father's House

  14. Pingback: Love, beauty, art, and awe | In My Father's House

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