You will never know the faithfulness of God without the fear of God.

This phrase came to my mind in response to a verse I know and love, one that has sustained me through tumultuous times in the past.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. -Isaiah 26:3

Steadfast Minds

The ESV and the NKJV say, “whose mind is stayed on You,” which takes the focus off our efforts to be strong-minded and centers instead on Him. The Amplified, of course, gives an explanation: “the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character].” It’s not just that this person’s mind is unwavering, but that it unwaveringly focuses on God. We must define the object of our steadfastness.

Perfect Peace

God our Savior and Protector is the One Who maintains our peace. Paul said,

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7

08-28 Greece (164)
Protective guards in Athens, Greece (c) Carole Sparks

His peace is an active, protective thing that guards us, perpetuating its perfection as we focus not on our circumstances but on Him. He establishes a sentry of peace guards around and in us while we think on the pure, excellent, admirable, etc. things of verses 8-9. That’s why just a few verses later, Paul says, “And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9b). If you’ve never noticed these brackets of peace around the “whatever”s, take a minute to read Philippians 4:6-9.

Perfect
Perpetual
Protective
Peace

Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace, but it doesn’t mean simply the absence of conflict. Its meaning falls more along the lines of…

  • contentment or satisfaction with life
  • confidence in God’s sovereignty, thwarting fear
  • a quiet mind that doesn’t worry
  • rest

Look how Jesus viewed peace as something that prevented worry and fear:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27

In other words, peace guards us while we focus on God (both directly and the outflow of His character in the world) so that we become more aware of His presence, the very epitome of peace.

Trust in God

Trust in God is the
foundation on which
the peace of God stands.
(click to tweet)

But we can’t get there if we don’t trust Him (back to Isaiah 26:3). Trust in God is the foundation on which the peace of God stands. My mind is steadfast on Him because I trust that He will protect and perfect me. It’s like walking on a balance beam.

I remember those childhood gymnastics classes. Our instructors taught us to look at the end of the beam, not down at our own feet. We had to trust the beam to be straight and steady, focusing beyond ourselves, setting our minds steadfastly on the end. If we looked at our feet, we fell off. (I’m reminded here of Peter walking on water.)

You will never know the faithfulness of God without the fear of God.

Faithfulness of God

God meets us at the
front edge of our risk.

When we do something risky in obedience, God invariably meets us there and blesses us in both expected and unexpected ways.

I write this to remind myself. As you know from last week’s post, we recently moved into a new neighborhood in the heart of a good-sized city. Previously, we lived on the safe, Christian-friendly outskirts of this city. Our kids will enter new school systems in August. We know none of our neighbors. We know of no strong Christ-follower presence around here. We are now heavily invested in this little piece of property for the next thirty years. Parentally, socially, spiritually, and financially, we’ve taken huge risks. And when I stop to think about it, that’s really scary!

Fear of God

How and why would we do something so crazy? Why take the risk? How do we jump into an unknown quarry pool without knowing the depth of the water? Because of our fear of the Lord.

That doesn’t mean we feel like He’s chasing us off the cliff or that He’ll punish us if we don’t jump.

The fear of the Lord is
the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy
One is understanding.
-Proverbs 9:10

What is fear of the Lord? I need a whole blog post or two to answer that question. (That’ll come later, I hope.) It’s not the kind of fear that leads to shaking in your shoes…until you’ve done something wrong and know you deserve discipline! It is the kind of fear that comes from knowing what He’s capable of, partnered with overwhelming respect for His Person and Place (Savior, Sovereign, Sustainer, etc.).

All that fear of the Lord leads to a sustainable trust that He will be Who He says He will be and always has been. He draws us, calls us, off the cliff and we jump with shaky knees but whoops of joy. We take the risk because we trust.

Conclusion

A healthy fear of God leads us to confident obedience as we trust in His sustaining power and experience His perfect peace, made more workable through a steadfast focus on Him. When we obey, His blessings kick in—a sure sign of continued faithfulness.

You will never know the faithfulness of God without the fear of God. Why you can—and should—take that risk. (click to tweet)

How about you. Is there a risk to which God is calling you? Maybe it’s something big, like moving your whole family, or something small, like saying ‘hi’ to a new neighbor. Have you taken a big (in the world’s eyes) risk and experienced His rewards? Please feel free to share in the comments. You’ll encourage us all!

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16 thoughts on “Why You Can—and Should—Take That Risk

  1. Well-written and much-needed words, Carole. I like your sentence description of fear of The Lord: “It is the kind of fear that comes from knowing what He is capable of, partnered with overwhelming respect for His Person and Place (Savior, Sovereign, Sustainer)”. I am preparing a talk on trusting Him. I have more to pray on. Blessings, Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thankful you were blessed, my friend. The verse, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” is frequently on my mind because I long to be wise, so understanding that fear is something that’s always evolving with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so true that to say ‘hi’ to a new neighbor, for some, is a really big risk. I love that God puts us in those “little bitty” situations, strengthens our resolve when we say ‘yes’ and gives us more to face, having been duly equipped.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As one who struggles with a phobia (counseling for years) and panic attacks, this post serves as yet another reminder of the peace — true peace — found in Christ alone. He has been by my side through it all, leading the way, and He has surrounded me with much grace and mercy. Thank you for this lovely, and much-needed reminder, Carole. Happy 4th!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carole, this was perfect timing! I’m working on a talk for our Women’s Ministry kickoff event in August, and our theme is TRUST. As I’ve been studying, these verses are exactly what God’s been teaching me. I loved reading your thoughts on this area. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I too have experienced the “big risks” in the Lord. We moved our family 7 hours from Ohio to Alabama. I knew no one but my husband’s family. Our move was to start a local church, in a community of hundreds of churches. Our plans were not what God planned, but He blessed our obedience. After overcoming fear of man, and recognizing the fear I needed in the Lord, I now lead a ministry to the poor. I’ve learned you have to take risks, by faith, if you are truly going to experience what Jesus refers to as the “abundant life” in John 10:10.

    Liked by 2 people

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