1 Now this is what the Lord says.
He created you, people of Jacob;
he formed you, people of Israel.
He says, “Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you.
I have called you by name, and you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1, New Century Version)
Why do I balk at submission?
If I really think about it, most of the time I come before God with a rather casual demeanor, as if we were on an almost equal footing. Years of theological training have provided me with a rich array of facts, but something in me keeps those facts–God’s justice, holiness, power, knowledge, wrath–from producing appropriate holy fear on a regular basis.
Now, I have no desire–nor do I think God desires me–to live life in a cowering shaking fear. God’s linguistic revelation of himself–the Bible–does not allow this interpretation, for intertwined with messages of justice and wrath are reassurances of redemption, presence, and restoration. Holy fear and calm assurance are not opposites, nor even incompatible. Together they are appropriate responses for God’s chosen and called ones.
Status as chosen and called has never been cause for arrogant self-assurance. This status has everything to do with God. the calling to be a witness of and servant to the most high God should cause a deep humility that reflects his amazing worth. God’s unreachable transcendence and gracious condescension ought to cause willing, and even cheerful, submission to him.
The fact that I do not always submit shows, in sharp relief, my deep need for him and for his people.
Indirect Particular Actions
Attitudes and actions, those things that keep me from proper fear and submission, cannot be changed directly, for we have no direct access to these aspects of ourselves. We do have access to practices, like confession and meditation. When centered on God and his truth, these practices train our souls for natural obedience by correcting our focus: away from self and toward God.
What particular actions do you make to stir up holy sorrow and re-prioritize obedience?