One quiet morning a few weeks ago, I decided to take some time to pray alone in our sanctuary. But as soon as I sat down on the front row, my mind began racing about all the stuff that still needed to be done before our Easter services: “How will the lights be set?” “Where will the extra projectors be placed?” “How will we transition between the songs and videos?”
Then suddenly, a still small Voice broke through to my cluttered mind and said, “Dwayne, where’s the awe? Why can’t you simply be still and know that I am God? Here you sit in my presence; yet your attention is captivated by technical details. They’re important, but they’re secondary to your primary responsibility as worship leader. As you stand and lead all those people on Easter, the most important thing you can do is be in awe of me.”
Needless to say, I was convicted and challenged by the Lord’s gentle rebuke that morning. And it drove me to dig deeper into God’s Word about this idea of awe. Here are a few things I discovered…
1. The awe of God motivates us to worship.
The people who witnessed Jesus healing a paralyzed man were awe-struck, which led them to praise: “Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today” (Luke 5:26 NIV). Another example of awe leading to worship is when Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead. Luke 7:16 says the people who saw it “were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people’” (NIV). Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains the kind of fear those on-lookers experienced: “There came a fear on all…Not a fear of dread, and terror, and of punishment…but a fear and reverence of the divine majesty.”
2. There can be no true worship without awe.
Hebrews 12:28 urges, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (ESV). The New Living Translation puts it like this: “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe” (italics added).
3. His greatness and great deeds should put us in awe.
In Psalm 145:3-6, David wrote, “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness” (NLT).
The revelation of how God intervened for His people made the prophet Habakkuk tremble. It literally put him in awe. Habakkuk responded, “I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NLT).
4. God wants us to live in awe.
Psalm 33:8 proclaims, “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!” (ESV). Speaking of the character of a true priest in Malachi 2:5, God said, “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name” (ESV).
In both these passages the idea of standing in awe implies something more than a one-time event, but rather a life-style of reverence and worship. God has established a “covenant of fear” with us, and He gives us all the grace we need to live each moment in awe.
Paul Tripp wrote, “We live days, maybe even weeks, without wonder and amazement even in gospel ministry. What should stun us doesn’t stun us anymore. What should leave us in silent, amazed worship has become so familiar it barely gets our attention in clutter of all the other things in ministry that command our attention.”1
Take the Challenge
If God wants us to live in awe, then He must also want us to lead in awe. Our amazement with God’s greatness and our thankfulness for His great mercies and deeds will inspire and influence those we lead at Easter to consider His greatness and goodness as well.
I challenge you to carve out an hour, maybe two, between now and this weekend, to get alone with God. Sing through the lyrics of the songs you’re singing Easter Sunday. Marinate on the words. Sing them to God. Meditate on His sacrificial death and awesome resurrection. Don’t rush through this time. Commit every detail of the services to Him. Lay your concerns and fears before the Lord. Cease your strivings. Be still and truly know He is God, who will be exalted among the nations—and in your Easter services.
1 “Lost in Awe” by Paul Tripp, TheGospelCoalition.org, January 29, 2012
photo credit: jacob earl