The Fear of the Lord
Not only fidelity, but wonder and awe resonate with the heart.
Consider: Thunder and lightning are phenomena transmitted to the mind through the body. Yet what are they, but light and sound?
Ask your heart, then – why do you tremble? If you have ever had a bolt of lightning pierce the air around you so that it was simultaneous with the thunder; when you heard it roar above you, why then did you tremble?
The cynic says, “Because it is a danger to my life,” and this is true. But he thinks the answer stops there, short and thin. He has answered a multiple choice question when we are looking for an essay.
Why does your life matter to you? What is that primal drive to survive? Why you, and your particular life?
In brief – we will have to be all too brief – when the lightning raises the hair on your arms and the thunder goes off like an explosion above you, you instantaneously recognize a force greater than you. Impossibly greater, and unpredictable besides. What creature does not fear them? They warrant the word “awesome.”
There is no mind behind lightning, though. It is a force driven by and subject to natural laws and forces. Lightning does not strike even one inch askance from where Nature directs it. Thunder is precisely as loud as she commands, no more or less.
The power of God, though, is more terrible still. With a word He could not only strike where He wills, or smite whatever He wishes; it is far worse than that. That is the work of a minor god. We are reckoning with the Almighty.
With a word, He could destroy planets, simply annihilate them as they fly across the night sky. The least utterance and all the Universe would be in flames and extinguished; He could do it without any physical destruction, simply cease to think of us, and all would be lost.
The very memory of it, the notion of your existence or mine, tossed aside like a word that didn’t rhyme.
And yet, as it is, you live. Think soberly, brother: You live.
If we tremble before the thunder and the lightning, what then should we do before God?