fear and trembling

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom... (Ps 111.10)

Last night Heather sent me a piece she has been working on, an imaginative re-telling of the Abraham and Isaac story (her version is available here, as an RTF file). It's very good.

She's been reading Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, an in-depth analysis of the Abraham and Isaac story. The title is a reference to Phil 2.12: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." And a couple days ago I noticed the phrase in this passage:

Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?"

...The woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.

And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." (Mk 5.30, 33-34)

I think many who call themselves Christians lack that awe, that fear of God that is central to faith, that unavoidable human trembling when we recognize that we are in the presence of the Almighty, the living God. "For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb 12.29)

Two Sundays ago, in a reflection on the Abraham and Isaac story, a man shared with the rest of us his conclusion that the "God" who told Abraham to sacrifice his son could not have been God. The whole thing was interpreted as a temptation. Apparently this guy would have done much better than Abraham, because he wouldn't have been duped in the first place, he wouldn't have even left the house. As I listened, a bit of the consuming fire flared up in my own heart.

Is God our daddy, our friend, our comforter? Yes. But also Creator, Sovereign, Omnipotent, Holy. The Unapproachable--who approaches us. The God we can trust completely, because nothing is beyond his power or outside of his hand.

The God we fall down before and worship.