How do you take a picture of a starry sky? How do you paint one? I found this photo of the wall behind my nativity!…
In January 1989, two friends of mine and I travelled to northern Sault Sainte Marie, Canada to take a train out into the snow-covered Agawa Canyon.
Travelling through the Upper Peninsula, Michigan to our first destination, I took a wrong turn into a national forest in the deep night of the white landscape. Looking out my window (out, not up!), I saw so many stars that the bright vastness frightened me. It was too magnificent to take in!
Can you remember a time when the vastness of God took your breath away in a way that made you shudder?
The Hebrew word for fear is yārē’ and has several derivatives that have different meanings ranging from: the emotion of fear; the anticipation of evil; reverence or awe; righteous behavior; or worship.
In the Old Testament, when fear is used in reference to God, the Hebrew word is yirâ (pronounced yee-rah) and it means awe or reverence. This “attitude of reverence” is the basis for true wisdom. It gives us a true perspective on Who He is and who we are, motivating us by His transcendent might.
The book of Proverbs is devoted to declaring the benefits of this fear or awe. Here are just a few of the verses that contain the Hebrew word yirâ :
9:10 – The yirâ of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
10:27 – The yirâ of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.
14:26 – In the yirâ of the Lord, there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.
14:27 – The yirâ of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.
So, how can we reverence the Lord? How can we be in awe of Him and so increase in wisdom and abundant life? The Psalmist says, “I meditate on all Thy works; I muse on the work of Thy hands.” (Psalm 143:5) Can we take time to look upon His creation and worship Him in His glory?
In his poetic treatise on the Lord’s warnings and comfort to His people, the Prophet Isaiah says:
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Oswald Chambers speaks about this “concentration on God” in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest. Here are two excerpts:
January 23 – We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding.
February 11 – Imagination is the greatest gift God has given us, and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him.
We live in a lulling culture that has many easy alternatives to relaxation. I want to “make the effort to relax” in His presence and meditate on His grandeur.
Lord, give us grace to persevere in lifting our eyes to You. Transform us in Your awesome beauty and love!