By Kathi Pelton
A spirit of fear rages through our world in these days. Continually, we read and hear reports of terrorist attacks, ISIS cells emerging on the international scene, natural disasters and threats of war. These woeful proclamations tempt the inhabitants of the global community to dwell in an environment of fear. This kind of fear provokes an emotional reaction which can thrust people into survival mode, rather than into a peaceful response that intentionally seeks wisdom.
Occasionally, reactionary fear is appropriate, even necessary. It is helpful as a response to immediate danger, such as an out-of-control speeding car or a falling object. But it is not healthy or proper to live consumed by this fear or to make long-term decisions dictated by its torments. If you do, then you are living in the “fear of fear” rather than in the fear of the Lord.
The Fear of the Lord
Proverbs 9:10 says,
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
The fear of the Lord refers to a reverence and respect of His ways, His power and His counsel. Following the life-giving instruction found in His Word is to walk in the fear of the Lord. Walking according to the Spirit of Wisdom is to live in the fear of the Lord. If you grew up in a household with a good and loving earthly father, then you understand that you can be fully and completely loved and still fear moving outside of the boundaries that your father set for you. Those boundaries represented safety and wisdom. They kept you safe and protected from harm.
It is the same with the fear of the Lord. He so loves you that He has laid out boundaries of safety for your life. I never look at them as rules to live by, but loving arms to live within. When we choose to live outside of these arms of love it causes repercussions that often bring harm and calamity into our lives. Our loving Heavenly Father wants to protect His children from these dangerous and fearful situations; therefore He invites us to live in the fear of the Lord.
When my children were young, I set loving boundaries for them. They may have thought I was simply making rules, but they were actually protections put in place because of love. I did not want them to face the consequences of disobedient behavior. My husband and I trained them because we loved them. It brought us no pleasure to discipline them when they crossed boundaries that we set for them, but our discipline was better than letting them grow up and face the harsh consequences laid down by the world when foolishness is fully manifested in an adult.
By submitting to the discipline of God, we come to know wisdom and we receive insight. As we become more and more intimate with Him, we gain a greater confidence and trust in His ways which cause us to experience a peaceful environment in the midst of a fear-based world.
Letting the Spirit Lead
Some of my extended family members do not yet know Jesus as their Savior. Because of this, they still react with fear to world events, rather than come under the fear of the Lord that responds to heavenly wisdom. During this time in our lives my husband and I are traveling internationally with greater and greater frequency. This is causing a lot of fear in these members of our family. All they can see is that we are exposing ourselves to enhanced risk of possible terrorist attacks. But what we see is that the best place we can be is in the center of our Father’s will!
As we seek the wisdom and insight of the Holy One we allow our lives to be overshadowed by the covering of the Lord as revealed in Psalm 91: 1-2,
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
The fear of the Lord leads me to turn to God as my refuge and fortress. The fear of the world will merely dictate a life of self-protection that keeps me from experiencing and relishing fullness of joy. There are two key words that should not be missed in the verses above: “will rest…”
Negative fear and rest do not coexist, but the fear of the Lord will lead you into rest. In my new book, Thirty Days to Breakthrough: Peace, I discuss how much of the warfare that we experience as believers is due to lack of peace instead of actual circumstances. When we move into fear and worry about tomorrow rather than dwelling in the refuge of the Almighty, we begin to live out our greatest fears even before they have happened. Our minds can be one of our greatest battlefields if we allow fear to control our thoughts.
We want to place our faith completely in the protection of our Father, not express faith in the destruction of the enemy. We must allow the Spirit of the Lord to renew our minds as our thoughts are captivated by peace and rest in the presence of the Lord. Even as we face fearful circumstances, we can remain in rest as we adjust to living in the refuge of His love.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
We must settle it in our thoughts and our actions: the ways of the world are not the ways of our God. His thoughts are foolishness to the world’s mindsets. But to the believer, there is no greater wisdom than the wisdom that comes from above.
Look at the battle of Jericho. The children of Israel were told to march around that walled city and then shout in order to see the walls fall. Can you imagine the mocking they must have endured as they walked, day after day?
Or, consider Noah. Can you imagine a man building an ark in the middle of a desert with no rain in sight? What foolishness!
This is how we live as God’s children. We live after a fashion that looks like foolishness to the world but appears as faith in the eyes of Heaven. We fly into danger zones at the Lord’s request during times of violence, we worship and rejoice in the midst of hardship, we declare truth and watch it change events on Earth. This posture illustrates who He is and helps us grow in trust as we obediently live in the fear of the Lord. That is wisdom.
He is inviting us into His ways, His truth and His peace. We can enjoy life in the midst of an environment of evil and fear. There is a truth that is greater and more powerful than earthly “reality” and there is a government that rests on the shoulders of the Almighty that will prevail. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that is our greatest victory. No evil or fearful thing can overcome His love that surrounds our lives.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
This is our assurance and the truth that we live by. We have an eternal hope that cannot be shaken and we are surrounded by a love that is irreversible. Let your faith arise and let the fear of the Lord be the doorway to wisdom in your life. This is not an hour to fear evil, but to fear the Lord.