Awe and Righteousness

“But I enter your house by the abundance of your faithful love; I bow down toward your holy temple in reverential awe of you. Lord, lead me in your righteousness because of my adversaries; make your way straight before me.” Psalms‬ ‭5:7-8‬ ‭CSB‬‬

These verses use two key words – awe and righteousness. Two words at first sight unconnected but they speak of a relationship with God that is so profound that it is strikingly counter-cultural.

The word “awe” in 21st Century society, at least in the affluent West, is usually connected with something tangible but rare, something that is considered to contain qualities that are much desired, for example a rare piece of art. To use the word “awe” in connection with God describes how we approach the Creator of everything; it affects and moulds our mental and physical demeanour before Him. The Psalmist acknowledges that it is through God’s abundant love that he is able to enter into God’s presence and he tags on the word “reverential” to try and expand the meaning of the word “awe”, trying to express something that a single word cannot fully describe. In a religious sense, the awe of God, so often inspired by the rich trappings of an altar and stained glass windows, so often inspired by the respectful, almost tangible, echoing silence within the confines of the chancel, is often sadly replaced, in a non-conformist setting, by a flippancy that demeans both the church-goer and His Creator. Though many people find an awe of God in a man-made building lined and populated with religious artefacts, I personally find an awe of God in His creation, in my tree lined early morning walks. And I often find myself bowing before Him in wonder at the sights around me, the sounds of bird song, the occasional contact with animals such as deer and foxes, rabbits and voles, the sprouting growth of new vegetation, all reaching out in a display of a life that expresses praise and gratitude to their Creator. And so often an awe of God can develop through my relationships with fellow brothers and sisters, through sharing remarkable testimonies of His greatness. Only an awesome Creator can change lives the way He does.

But without an appreciation of God in all His completeness, without an attitude of awe and reverential respect, I cannot hope to understand how I can ever be allowed to come close to Him. Thankfully, through His grace and mercy, through God’s forgiveness for my sins, I am declared righteous through His Son, Jesus. Just think about it, I stand before my amazing Creator, forgiven and adopted into His family. But the connection between “awe” and “righteousness” can only come by having an appreciation of how great he is, an appreciation expressing and acknowledging Him with a respect that is ultra-awesome.

I will never fully and completely appreciate the extent of God’s awesomeness in this life. But I can try to the best of my ability to connect with my loving Heavenly Father in the here and now, in my everyday situations, spending time with Him. Appreciating His presence. Feeling His love. And today I bow before Him, in true awe of the One who cares for me.

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