I woke up one day last month with some words of scripture running through my mind. Those words were from the book of Proverbs where it says:
‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’.
I had the sense that this was important for me. I started to ‘chew’ on this proverb and to let it ‘sink in’ as a form of scriptural meditation. So what have I discovered? My first thought was that this would make an excellent school or university motto. How good it would be to recognise, as I walk into a place of learning, that true and deep wisdom is derived from this particular attitude of humble dependence on the Lord of the Universe. Of course others might recoil at the idea of God, let alone the thought that he could give us anything by way of knowledge.
I must confess that the idea of the ‘fear of the Lord’ has been clouded for me by a cane wielding school master intent on beating ‘the fear of God’ into me. However, what this ‘fear’ actually refers to is reverence, respect and worship. As the Lord says through the prophet Isaiah ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’, thus indicating that even our best thoughts and ideas will often fail to capture the full picture. Fear of the Lord describes an attitude of humble dependence on God in all matters of ‘faith and conduct’, requiring the ability and wisdom to ‘do the next right thing’.
The final part of my reflection involved thoughts of the end of life itself. I believe that when it comes to the matter of my eternal destiny, my attitude towards the Lord is pivotal. If I don’t respect him, honour him or love him then I suspect that I am positioning myself outside of his loving provision. On the other hand, to the extent that I rightly fear him, my life takes on a different shape, not only in this world but also in the the life of the world to come. This is all part of my strengthening conviction that this life is not ‘it’ and the life I live in the ‘here and now’ is not all there is.
Rev. Dr. Christopher Noble – Rector
St Mary’s Stansted with Fairseat and Vigo