1999-09-22 - Good Fear/Urgent Message
Proverbs 19:23 (NLT) Fear of the LORD gives life, security, and protection from harm.
Something I have never really understood about the Bible is the often-found phrase, "fear of the Lord." Oh sure, I understand with my head that the "fear of the Lord" phrase in most cases is referring to a "reverence" of the Lord. It is a good fear, not a trembling, paralyzing fear that causes us to draw away from God. It is easy to understand "fear" of the Lord when you replace the word "fear" with "reverence," which leads to obedience and worship. A healthy fear brings a needed sense of urgency about God that brings us closer to Him, and causes us to want others to have what we have in Christ. The key is moving this head knowledge to your heart and then to your feet.
I spent last Wednesday feeling a great sense of urgency about Hurricane Floyd. Early forecasts had Floyd following the path of Hurricane Fran a few years ago. This path led straight to where I live, the heart of North Carolina. The more I watched the weather reports and saw the satellite photographs, the more "fearful" I became. This fear caused me to become very prepared. I went out and filled my car with gas, and fill the tank for my grill, with propane. Then I was off to the hardware store for batteries for the flashlights and radio, along with other items. At home we stocked up on food and bottled water. Around the yard we brought in patio furniture, took down the bird feeders, brought in the toys and anything that could become a projectile during high winds. All day long and into the night, the foremost thought in my mind was Hurricane Floyd, and keeping everyone around my house safe.
Later on that night, I had one of those "aha!" moments. Simple as it may seem, it is profoundly true. I finally realized that I have not been living with a fear of the Lord. God was not always at the forefront of my thoughts, and somewhere along the way I had lost my sense of urgency that we should have about the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ being our savior from an eternity in hell. This sense of urgency causes me to react in two ways. It makes me have a renewed love, reverence, respect and appreciation for a very loving God; secondly, it makes me want to share with others the truth about God and His plan to save a lost and hopeless world.
Floyd turned away from my area of North Carolina and flooded the eastern part of our state. My wife's mother and father, two sisters and a brother along with their families live in eastern North Carolina. The stories we are getting on the phone from them, are quite remarkable. These stories really drive this point -- reverent fear and sense of urgency -- home to me, and I pray they will for you as well.
My wife's sister and husband were awakened at six o'clock Thursday morning by a phone call from a neighbor, who was urgently telling them to move their cars out of their basement garage up to the street in front of their home, and to get their dog out of his pen in the backyard. In less than an hour, 9 feet of water was in their basement and the dog pen was under water. They gathered their children and went to stay with a friend in another part of town. Two days later they could manage to return to their house to survey the damage. As they opened the front door, they stood in the foyer looking around in wonderment and shock. As they looked to the right into the dining room and to the left into the living room, all their furniture was gone; the rugs on the floor were gone. Not only was everything in their basement destroyed, but also now it appeared that someone had looted their home. Much to their surprise, they walked upstairs to the second floor and found that total strangers had gone into their home, not to loot, but to save their possessions. Neatly rolled up on their beds were the rugs from downstairs. The dining room table and chairs were in a bedroom. Everything from their first floor had been moved for them upstairs. A week later they still do not know who went into their home to protect their belongings from the still-increasing floodwaters. There were hundreds, and more likely thousands of stories of neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger, and early on -- like Paul Revere warning about the British coming -- stranger warning stranger about the flood waters coming, and now stranger helping stranger cope with the disaster.
There is a more urgent story which we as Christians know that needs to be told. It is an urgent message to a lost and hopeless world. It is a message which only we can tell. Why are we willing to share with our neighbor a warning about a flood, but not about Christ? Why would we be wiling to risk our lives to pull someone from a rising creek, or a floating car, but we are not willing to pull them from an eternity without God? Why are we willing to watch our coworkers, our classmates, our friends, our family members live a life far from God here on earth, and spend a life of eternity in Hell? The gospel is a very urgent message that we need to tell.
Over twenty people have died so far here in North Carolina from this flooding. My heart and prayers go out to the families. I also wonder how many of these people knew the gospel and had accepted Christ as their Savior. The warning about the devastating Hurricane Floyd, which left thousands homeless, was very urgent. But even more urgent is the warning to not leave this earth without Christ. Think about that.
Father, forgive us for taking You for granted. Forgive us for letting bad fear prevent us from sharing Your plan with the people around us who do not know You. Increase in each of us a sense of urgency about the gospel and help us to keep You in the forefront of our minds. Increase in each of us a hunger for your Word. Increase in each of us our love for You and our gratitude for what Your Son Jesus did for us on the cross. In His name, Amen.