“A fool is a wise man’s ladder” — South African Proverb
I love reading proverbs from different parts of the world. It’s a fascinating look into different cultures.
We are starting a new series on Proverbs on Sundays. Below are two verses from Proverbs, which Pastor Matt highlighted, as a good starting point for the study of this book:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
According to these verses, my starting point on a “journey”, if you will, to walk the way of one who is wise, is “the fear of the LORD”.
When I was a young child, I was afraid of thunderstorms. Lightning and thunder terrified me. I wanted to run away from the scary noises. Is this the kind of fear that is meant here, a terror-stricken type of fear, that causes me to run and hide, like a cowering child, afraid of God?
I liked the way Pastor Matt described this type of fear. He called it a “knee-knocking awe… a reverent trust”.
On one hand, I need that kind of reverent awe, but on the other hand, I don’t need to flee and hide. Are there any examples from Scripture of people who exemplified this kind of awe?
One example Pastor shared is from Genesis 22:1-12. Abraham walks in obedience when God tells him to take his son Isaac and offer him up as a sacrifice. In verse 7, Isaac asks his father where the sacrifice is (the lamb). And in verse 8, Abraham answers: “My sin, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” Such obedience there, such total trust! God Himself will provide! Then Abraham prepares to slay his his own son. In verse 12, God stops Abraham, and says…”Do not lay you hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God…”
Another example is the man of Job. Job 1:1 reads “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” The rest of the book explains what happened to Job and how he responded to God.
Finally, another instance the Pastor shared is referenced in Revelation 1:17-18, when the Apostle John fell to his face as one who is dead. But then Jesus lays his right hand on John and says “do not be afraid”. It’s a kind of awe that brings us flat on our face.
Have you ever been flat on your face? I first heard this two years ago, when someone I know, an older man, said this is how he prays. This particular man disciples other men, and he said that he can’t do any of it (or much of anything) unless he’s flat on his face asking God to lead him and direct him. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated learning this, hearing that he empties himself before God like that, in a humble, open soft-hearted way, surrendering to God his will, his life, all of it, and asking Him to come in and teach him and fill him and show him the way, give him words to speak. I saw evidence of the Holy Spirit speaking to him, in our conversation back then.
I also heard Beth Moore share she prays this way, too. I’ve done a number of her Bible studies, and she shared this in one of her DVD sessions. Often I’ve felt her speaking was anointed by the Holy Spirit– I don’t know how else to say it except in that “religious language”.
I had bowed in prayer, but I admit, I’d gotten lax in my posture. Since two people I respect mentioned this, I also wanted to try. So yes, I’ve done it a few times. Something amazing happens while flat on the floor, breathing in dust. There’s something about assuming that humble posture. I highly recommend it, and for others to experience it for themselves. I want to add that I didn’t do this just an exercise, to try something new. I actually wanted to pray that way. How can I express this… for the past couple of years, I’ve experienced a greater longing to be closer to God. This is part of that desire, and it seems the right way to be, in the presence of my Holy God. I don’t share this to indicate that this is how I pray all the time. In fact, I don’t do this often. I need to do it daily. I may find more inner transformation if I do, and empty more of myself out before Him. I just realized, even in the midst of writing this, that this is what I NEED to be doing, and sometimes being flat on my face itself, just the posture, helps. Really I’m not suggesting everyone must pray this way. But I do think it’s an appropriate response to our God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I want to be on my way. I need wisdom on a daily basis. Because the truth is, I pretty much fall flat on my face in some way or another every day. Anyone??
Yet, I don’t live defeated and hopeless. The hope is that even though I may fail, as I walk closer with God, I will also act, think, and be more like Him. I CAN expect to do or say some wise things (in addition to all the dumb things). I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty exciting to me.
Sometimes people don’t think wisdom is cool. At times I see young people acting foolishly and it may be the “cool” or “in” thing to behave a certain way, or talk a certain way. Behaving wisely may seem “odd”, “prudish” or “not cool”. God’s wisdom may look strange. It won’t fit into the world’s ideas. But, the world needs the salt and light, the wisdom of God, and people who are reflecting bits of that wisdom, as imperfect as we may be. God can use it and perfect it and fashion it in spite of our foibles. I love that. It frees me from being perfect and having it all together, which I don’t.
It starts with a healthy, reverent fear.
Here are a few questions our pastor gave us to consider:
1) Do you have the kind of fear that needs to move from terror-fright to a more appropriate fear?
2) Do you need to move from a casual familiarity/ relationship to an appropriate fear?
3) What is the appropriate fear that will transform my life?
Good questions. You know, this is the same God who speaks to us in Psalms 62, asking us to pour out our hearts to Him. This is the same God who asked Moses to remove his feet, for he was standing on holy ground. This is the same God who sent a flood that covered the entire world, except for Noah and his family. This is the same God who loves so deeply that He sent his own son to die on the cross for our sins. God is a beautiful mystery. I know there are many things I will not understand here on earth, but it’s not about knowing the answers, it’s about knowing Him. Looking forward to delving more into the book of Proverbs!
Sharing with Michelle at Hear in on Sunday/Use it on Monday
And each Monday, I link in community in giving thanks for daily graces:
240. Daughter’s 8th grade graduation night. Each graduate received a book and a character trait, and a verse. Her trait was “virtue–doing the right thing in a Christ-like manner.” Lovely…just so blessed by that. What more would a mom like to hear? Now…off to high school. The education journey we are on should be the subject of a new page.
241. Watching the commencement of some high school seniors at a nearby Christian school. I can’t remember the last time I saw a high school graduation. I knew a few of the kids– not very well, but am acquainted with their parents, see them at church, etc. I was a substitute teacher this past year a few times at the school, and so I actually “subbed” for these seniors a couple of times. It was exciting to see these young people at the brink of beginning something new. I can imagine the anticipation of moving, attending college, etc. And with the way life moves, it won’t be long before we will be hearing of engagement announcements, college graduation announcements. Wonderful, so much hope in the future, looking at these young people, with most of their lives yet to be lived. Even though it’s been a few years since I was in their shoes, according to life expectancy statistics, I still have much life yet to be lived. I think it would be a good idea to attend a high school graduation every once in a while.
242. The last day of school– we celebrated with smoothies!
243. Riding bikes around the block.
244. My laptop, which has been ill with a virus, is feeling much better, thank you, and I’m hoping for a full 100% recovery. Oh… so thankful for this. But still if I do a google search I’ll end up with results like — travel sites, and groupon sites– not the sites I’m searching for. The computer won’t let me connect to my igoogle home page. So, my laptop is still feeling a little down.
245. A very special boy’s 8th birthday, “E”, as I call him, my youngest, turned 8 on Saturday. I found a wonderful gluten-free chocolate cake mix, and some frosting that was safe, and those cupcakes were just as good as any I’ve had– in fact, they tasted better! E needs a separate page too, because he has some stories to share, one of of which is his extensive list of food allergies. Thankful for birthdays and yummy cupcakes!
246. Seeing butterflies flitting around. I’ve seen 3 different kinds so far.
247. Watching a yellow finch tap on the window. It never fails, each year, a yellow finch sees his reflection in one of the windows and pecks!
248. An old plastic sandbox in the backyard that still has sand, but since it rained, water has stayed on top it, and the birds have discovered this, and are utilizing it as a birdbath! No one uses the sandbox anymore, and the birds don’t seem to mind the sand! Either way, the time has come to dump the sand.
249. Taking my daughter for a haircut and then shopping for mousse and nail polish afterwards. Such girlie things to do. I loved it.
250. Taking my boy shopping for a pair of athletic shoes. His had gotten completely worn out, with holes and tears and not usable. We went to 3 stores to find a “wide” width– but finally found something that fit! Thankful for shoes to cover our feet.
Thanks for reminding me of the position of posture we bring before the Lord. I think I am greatly in need of some on-my-face time, bowing low in realization that the bowing low is where it all begins. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and your beautiful list — found you over at Ann’s place. 🙂
Flat out on my face prayers…when I collapse in a sobbing heap on the floor…but rise knowing I’ve given the burden to Him…it’s a humbling, wonderful way to keep a reverent awe for GOD…your writing is a beautiful reminder.
We serve an awesome God and bowing before Him shows reverence and “fear.” The kind of fear that shows respect and not a flippant attitude. God is our Father and not our “buddy,” as some seem to treat him. Your Pastor is teaching some significant truth on how to fear the Lord, and yet come boldly into his throne room. “ On your face” is a good way to pray – if you are still young enough to get back up once you get there. 🙂
Hazel, your comment made me smile today “if you are still young enough to get back up once you get there”. Indeed! 🙂 God bless you.
What awesome reflections on those Proverbs! I will try your suggestion of praying “face down”… reminds me of the Matt Redman song 🙂 We’ll see how that goes.
I like how you (and your pastor) dug deeper into the idea of “fearing” God. It’s such a unique and indescribable posture of respect, awe, obedience and love. Thanks for your thoughts!
Oh a wonderful post in so, so many ways! First, I have never considered praying prostrate like that, flat on my face. I am intrigued. I think it would definitely be a different and more awesome experience, and I might even be intrigued enough to try it.
Second, I love this:” it’s not about knowing the answers, it’s about knowing Him.” Isn’t that just the most simple but whole truth? Sometimes I get way too wrapped up in the questions instead of focusing on what’s most important: knowing and loving Him.
A wonderful post — thank you!
Thanks for sharing lovely list. Congratulations on your daughter’s middle school graduation. Virtue is a wonderful character trait. You must be very proud.