Our society is consumed by healthy living. Organic food. Power vegetables. Yoga. Cardio. CrossFit. Pilates. Limited sugar (dagger to my heart). Limited soft drinks (full body blow). In some form, I am sure every reader of these words can attest to the truth that at least one of these things has an enormous impact on your purchasing decisions, your allocation of time, your conversations. There is a part of you that BELIEVES that more exercise will strengthen your body, that certain foods will make you healthy. In fact, your belief is so strong, so down-to-your-core real, that there is a FEAR of departing from it. You believe in food so strongly, in healthy living so fully that there is a fear that if you do not eat these foods, or do this exercise that your health may suffer, your body may not be quite-so-sleek. The belief is good, but it is the FEAR of not having it that compels your behavior. I think when the Proverbs talk about “fear of God,” this is where they are coming from. We should never be afraid of God, just like we should not be afraid of kale. Kale is good for you. God is good, and He is good for you. In fact, He is awesome. He is all-powerful and full joy and total peace. In fact, it is because He is so good, and His plans are so perfect that we should fear NOT being close to Him. We should fear being separate from Him.
Like Solomon, I have to get to this place where I see how small I am, and how big He is. I don’t understand the bigness of this world, the enormousness of poverty and injustice. I can’t fathom how to soothe the heartache of those suffering. I am just a selfish girl who tells white lies and wants to impress those around me – but STILL He has lavished upon me countless blessings. Despite my smallness, God has been so good to me. I have grown babies in my womb, I have experienced that heart connection of true friendship that goes too deep for words, I see oceans and smell roses. It is all God. And He is so big, so GOOD. What would life be like without Him? I don’t want to know. So I cling to Him. I am, in fact, FEARFUL of life without Him.
Solomon says in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.” He does not mean we fear the Lord and keep Him at arm’s length, it means we are so in awe of His power, so blown away by His love for this mucked up girl obsessed with how her tushy looks in spandex, so taken aback by the decoration of this earth, so mystified that He would leave Heaven to defeat death and sin in a battle that tops all battles, so excited to see what would happen if I would really TAKE HIM IN that I am FEARFUL of being apart, of turning away, of looking any other direction but His.
If we go back to the healthy living analogy, we, in our health-obsessed culture, look at lack of exercise and poor eating habits as a serious social issue. [Full disclosure: I love Cheetos and Mountain Dew; so this is not a judgement from me.] Frankly, knowing what we know about the body and health, we, as a culture, believe it is borderline stupid to eat primarily processed foods and to live a sedentary lifestyle. We have great anxiety about lack of exercise. The fitness of our flesh is of enormous importance. We are fearful, no, I would say we are PETRIFIED of chemically tainted foods and muscles left un-toned. And this is all for a body that has a shelf life anyway. Newsflash: the fanny is going to sag. It’s a thing called gravity. BUT, we are promised not only life after this life and rewards that last forever, but also a full and joyful life NOW, wisdom now, comfort now if we will abide by the teachings of our Heavenly Father, if we will live feeding on His word, if we seek this His wisdom wholeheartedly.
Like our culture is calling for a bold CHANGE in our lifestyle habits toward healthy living, this Manna, this word is crying out for a radical repentance, an ABOUT FACE on what is propelling us in our lives. Our Heavenly Father via King Solomon is telling us to stop, turn around, fix our eyes, our goals, our desires on this GREAT, GOOD God. Crave Him so much that you are afraid to be apart from Him. And here is the caramel sauce on top… are you ready? Drum roll, please. When we turn, when we open our hands and our hearts and say, tell me what to do, tell me how to live, He says, it is done.
Proverbs 1:22-23, “Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? … Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn? About face! I can revise your life. Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you; I’m ready to tell you all I know.” The Message
He is ready to tell you all that He knows. That is Manna for a lifetime. It is spiritual sustenance to last forever, literally, an eternity. It is answers to every question. It is peace for every persecution. It is joy for every sorrow. It is forgiveness for every sin. It is total. It is complete. It is all that we need or will ever need. It is all that we want or will ever want.
So, in hearing this truth that fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge and this cry to do an about face on what we are craving, what we are feeding on, I think we have to stop and ask ourselves:
- What do I fear living without more than God? What do I cling to ‘to make my life work’ more than His presence? Exercise? A particular diet? A beautiful life? Material success? My appearance? If I examine my thoughts, my checkbook, my calendar, what is compelling me more than being near God?
- How have I misunderstood God? In light of what He offered Solomon and what He is offering us, how have I discounted what He longs to give me? He says He wants to tell us all he knows. Scripture tells us that He can give us more than we can possibly ask or imagine. What have I placed as higher value than His words?
- What is one way that I can do an ABOUT FACE and turn to feed on God? If a spiritual nutritionist could dissect my heart, what might she say to ‘cut out’?