Otherness, openness, submissiveness, gratefulness, childlikeness and wholeheartedness make up what the Bible calls the fear of the Lord. Why? Because this is responding to the God who truly exists: the God who is infinitely great, and infinitely good.
“Let me seek Thee in longing, let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.”
Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day…
Fearing God is not only humbled and awed. It is also zealous. Reverent love pursues God vigorously. The fear of the Lord is irrepressibly zealous. Life, when unencumbered by the weakness that sin and the Fall have brought, pursues its holy desires, and is further enlivened thereby.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Life freed from the corruption of sin and death pursues the highest good as its chief desire. It pursues the profit and pleasure of beauty. It is the mark of sin that it does not intensify our desires, but weakens them; it does not focus our desires, but dissipates them. Our waters run abroad in the streets instead of healthily gathered and focused (Proverbs 5:16-19).
Reverent love includes the earnest pursuit of God’s beauty, vigorously pursuing the sweetness of communion with God. Wholehearted seeking longs for God, and it enjoys both the longing and the finding, which increases the longing. Bernard of Clairvaux’s translated hymn captures this:
We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.
We think of the prophet Isaiah’s experience: first humbled, then open about his sin, then submissive, but once cleansed, what springs up is zealous seeking of God:
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”