Awe to Him I Owe
By David Faust
Awe is a two-sided coin. When you hear bad news or eat unpleasant-tasting food, you say, “That’s awful!” But when you hear good news or taste delicious homemade pie, you say, “That’s awesome!”
Awe is the amazement and admiration you feel when you gaze across the Grand Canyon, view a double rainbow in the sky, stand next to a roaring waterfall, or view the Hubble Telescope’s photos of outer space. Awe is evidence of the image of God in you. It puts tears in your eyes when you hear great music and grateful wonder in your soul when you cuddle a newborn baby.
HEALTHY FEAR FOR GOD
Awe and fear are closely related. Proverbs 14:16 says, “The wise fear the Lord and shun evil,” and Job was commended for doing those very things (Job 1:1). Yet, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). How can these verses be reconciled? Why does the Bible say to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), but also to approach God’s throne “with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16)?
The “great and awesome God” is “for us” (Deuteronomy 7:21; Romans 8:31). “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), so we don’t have to cower in terror or wallow in shame; yet the Lord always deserves our highest reverence and respect. Awe is a stepping-stone toward wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Paul was brilliant and well-educated, but he humbly exclaimed, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33). Awed by God’s grace, John wrote, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
Remember the time Jesus calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee? The frightened disciples thought they were going to drown. Jesus stilled the wind and waves, but afterward a different kind of fear gripped the disciples. Who was this passenger in the boat with them who could control nature with a few simple words? “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” (Mark 4:41). Their fear of dying in the storm gave way to overwhelming awe for Jesus.
TWO CHALLENGES TO CONSIDER
Be an awe-full Christian. First-century believers were “filled with awe” when they saw God’s hand at work (Acts 2:43). Do you give and serve cheerfully? Do you pray and read Scripture with a humble, receptive mind? If you’re a Christian, you’re a once-lost sheep sought and found by the Good Shepherd. Never quit being amazed by grace.
Help your congregation be an awe-full church. The first-century church grew when the disciples lived “in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). One of the most evangelistic things the church can do is to take God seriously and have the kind of gatherings where if unbelievers or inquirers visit, they can’t help but exclaim, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
Rejoice when new believers are baptized. Pour your whole self into worship. Imagine joining a huge multitude in Heaven—“from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9), praising God before his throne. Now that will be awesome!
Personal Challenge: On a piece of paper or in your personal journal, write a list of God’s attributes and actions that stir your sense of awe. Using this list as a guide, offer a prayer of praise for the Lord.