I am trying to get a grip on what it is to “fear God,” a phrase sprinkled all over the Bible. My best insight is the word “awe,” something I’ve experienced once or twice in my life when I felt God’s presence so clearly that I could not speak a word, only bow in silence. It is a sense of complete reverence, wonder, and something like fear plus the feeling that nothing else matters. Now, the problem is, I can define it, but I don’t feel this very often. It started me thinking about Paul’s prayer for his friends, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19 NIV)
Height and depth are very evident here at Snow Mountain Ranch. I am in awe at the mountains’ craggy peaks all around me, their lonely heights that no man has walked upon, or very few if any. Millions of little plants struggle up from a crack here and there on the sunny side of a steep cliff where no one will ever see or appreciate them. I stand in awe at these wonders and mysteries. I stand in awe at the multiple ages of the earth displayed by vertical layers of rock that were once horizontal, laid down by eons of time under a sea or in a desert swept by ancient winds. I cannot handle it. I cannot stretch my mind enough to grasp the length and width of this flow of time. I cannot grasp the height and depth of the mountains, their beauty, the upper snows still present on the 6th of June. The display is dazzling and overwhelming everywhere I look. So I come to the end of myself, my proud mind so eager and confident to grasp and understand the world and to know it. But I find that even this small portion of the world, a valley 35 miles long surrounded by three mountain ranges is too much. I cannot grasp this. I know I am beyond my depth. It’s too much.
Lord, help me to appreciate in awe, in some kind of holy fear, to grasp the height and depth, the length and breadth, to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, to let myself float on the depths of your love and catch visions of the height of your glory, surpassing all feeble human powers and affection. Help me to live in your gracious love, mysteriously bold, and leave all my prideful knowledge behind.