A dear friend recently eulogized his mother with these words: ‘You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.’ (PS 61:5) The Psalmist refers to God as the giver; my friend added to that his acknowledgement of the faith he inherited from his good, god-fearing mother.
I contemplated the reference to fearing God. What does that mean? Uncomfortable with fear in our therapeutic age, certain that all shame is bad and that honoring anything greater than ourselves is a set up for abuse, we refuse to link fear with faith in God.
What a loss. To me the fear of God takes our faith and trust in His goodness and anchors it in His holy power. Fearing Him means a healthy reckoning that He is God and we are not, that He alone holds the keys to life and death, and that we do well to take His ways seriously and make them our own. Or else.
Or else what? I don’t know for sure, but I don’t want to find out the hard way. Nor do I want my kids to meander in misty notions of grace without the hard truth of sin’s consequences. Annette and I have made it our absolute priority that our kids know that their main inheritance is the fear of the Lord. It’s not education or good humor or well-intentioned acts—it’s about knowing God as revealed in Christ Jesus, full of grace and truth.
This year, Annette and we are grateful that each of our kids is centered in God. After many detours, they love Him and possess a healthy fear of Him. They respect His power as well as the power of sin; they try to steer clear of those strongholds most familiar to them.
This year, Sam fought to remain free from friends he could not handle and free for fellowship. He has also worked really hard this year to become financially responsible. He intends to become a middle-school teacher. We witness the success of his efforts to grow in godliness. He has a deep heart for God and for weak humanity.
Katie is excelling at Beeson Seminary in Alabama. She has found her niche as a budding theologian and a woman who loves the Church. Both are rooted in humble reliance on God. She re-upped to serve on one of our healing teams before she left. She told me she did so because she felt weak in some relational areas, and to serve others was a good way to stay clean and strong. What a daughter, a Christian after my own heart!
Nick married beautiful Meg last May. He was already busy in his Pittsburg-based seminary, running marathons—as focused as one dares to be. The day before the two wed, he received an offer to come on staff at a turned-on Anglican parish in Kansas City. He took the job, and life changed fast. Nick amazed me in how he cared for Meg in this process of rapid change. She chose to leave a good job back east and Nick took seriously her loss and needs. Much competes for his attention, but Meg wins first place. God has trained him in the way of love.
Greg and Christina celebrated their first year anniversary last September after landing his first job in a law firm in Colombia MO. The year preceding, Greg fought hard to secure a job. Caught in the undertow of the recession, his high-standing as a graduate meant little to nothing. The way that he endured multiple, exhaustive interviews to no avail amazed me. He struggled to not fear his law-school debt or to doubt his own adequacy. He feared the Lord, and fought hard to stay centered in what was true. He lives out his heritage well.
Annette and I have sought one true thing: that our kids would receive the heritage of ‘those who fear His Name.’ We are deeply grateful for those of you who prayed and fought for our godly fear. Thank you.
In 2012, may the Lord bless and build you up in your inheritance as children of a holy, loving God.
‘His Mercy extends to those who fear Him from generation to generation.’ – (Luke 1:50)