On Fearing God & Unanswered Prayers
I had a conversation this week with one of my Delight girls, Cassidy. She’s also a tour guide, and our brief heart-to-heart on Monday morning in the lobby of the visitors center at OU was the catalyst for this blog post. When she asked me how I was doing, I hesitated to tell her the truth. It’s one of those moments I think we all have every now and then – where you’re not sure if you really want to be honest in answering that question, or just give the polite, “good, how are you?”. Had the Lord not led me to be real with her about where my head was at, this conversation probably would have ended as quickly as it started.
Our conversation related to something I’ve learned recently in Exodus. There was one sermon I listened to from Kevin DeYoung that opened my eyes to a new way of approaching the Lord – with fear.
Before I jump into his analysis, I want to always start with God’s word – that is what is ultimate. This sermon covers Exodus 20:18 – 26. Here’s 18 – 21…
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
Here’s what stood out to me from what DeYoung says on this passage:
“To fear God means that he is not to be trifled with, or taken lightly, careless, casually, or flippantly. It’s the difference between riding your bike down a muddy, waterless creek and trying to ride your bike off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon….
…The purpose of this fear is so that you may not sin. Obedience, as a category in the Christian life, does not disappear when we’re saved by grace. Some people act as though, since we’re saved by grace, we never have to talk about obedience. You’re going to have a hard time making sense of the Bible that way. Israel was saved by grace when they were delivered out of Egypt. They were given the law after the gospel. Now God says, “I want you to follow me.”
As Christians, we must also retain the category of fear. Yes, there is a wrong kind of cowering, servile fear, but there is a right kind of healthy fear. God says, “I want you to have the reverence, awe, respect, and fear that makes you take these commandments with the utmost seriousness.”
To come to him in awe, with reverence.
There are a lot of reasons we fear someone or something, but oftentimes it’s over power or control. Knowing this about God – that he has ultimate power and ultimate control, and that he has promised to move and act for his glory and my good, should lead me to obedience. Specifically obedience when it comes to full reliance and trust in him, which has not come easily recently. I pray to the all-powerful, all-knowing, ultimate and eternal father who created the heavens and the earth, knowing that he sees me, he hears me, and he knows me and my heart and my desires. The best way for me to come to him with the right kind of fear, respect, and honor is not by whining about my unanswered prayers, or complaining about what I don’t yet have, but by giving him the glory and gratefulness for what I do have and trusting in him. By remembering what he has already done for me, and what he will do for me in my lifetime, that I am in no way deserving of. If I am honoring and fearing him the way I should be, there will be no self pity in my approach of the God of the universe.
When I was talking to Cass, I was telling her how my heart has been weary lately from unanswered prayers that I shared on the blog earlier this summer. I’m tired of fighting the battle against idolizing marriage. I’m tired of praying in my weak moments, because they seem to be happening more and more lately. I’m tired of waking up on Sunday mornings, seeing the countless engagements and proposals across social media, wondering when it will be my turn.
The pieces have clicked into place. I might be tired, but I must remain obedient in my weariness. If I am truly approaching God with the reverence he calls us to and am being faithful and putting my trust in him, I can remove my hands from holding the weight of my desire to have a husband. I can release the grasp I have on being dead-set and determined to date this one guy I’ve had my eye on for four and a half years that I can’t seem to cross paths with. I can rest in the arms of the Lord, knowing he’s moving all the pieces in place and orchestrating the work that needs to happen in my heart – not for a husband – but for my ultimate purpose of bringing glory to Christ.
Fear of the Lord leads me to seeing him for all of the glory and power he holds. It’s a key to being obedient in trusting him. Obedience in trusting him enables me to surrender.
For his glory and our good.
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