January 29: Psalm 111
""The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever."
Have you ever wondered what it means to fear God or to be a "God-fearing person?" On the one hand, our scriptures describe God as a source of peace, love, and solace. On the other hand, these same texts prescribe a healthy dose of what they call "fear." In this particular Psalm there are words of praise and joy, followed by this call to fear the Lord.
What does it mean?
The things that are most comfortable to us and the least "scary" are the things that we are the most used to and that fit in the best with our way of thinking and doing things. In other words, we like the status quo. Things that are different and unexpected are often jarring, and uncomfortable. Have you ever had a new experience that turned out to be a great one, but which was difficult and frightening at first? These are the types of experiences, relationships, and interactions that help us to grow and develop as people.
I think the Psalmist is saying that if we long for wisdom, we have to be willing to expect that God doesn't fit neatly and cleanly with our typical vision of things. God jolts us out of the ordinary way of seeing the world. God command us and requires things of us. A healthy respect for God, and a willingness to obey and follow are the route to learning new things and growing in our faith. Yes, it can be fearful, but what joy it can lead to over time!