Todays post is an excerpt taken from my book, “An Untroubled Heart.” You can order a copy by clicking on the book cover.
When I was pregnant with my third child, I shamefully displayed a lack of respect for a police officer. It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was running late for church. On the way, I had to drop off my eldest son at baseball practice. The fact that he had practice on a church night already had my tail feathers up in the air, not mention the drizzling rain. I was in no mood to get my second child out of the car in the rain to walk my baseball player down to the playing field, nor did I have the time.
When we are short on time, what do we do? You guessed it. I sped right into the park where the policeman pulled me over. I was appalled! How could he set up a speed trap in the park on a rainy day to catch a pregnant woman who was running late for church! “The nerve!” I thought. By now, I’d had it. Before the officer could approach my car, I jumped out in the rain and met him halfway. “Are you going to give me a ticket?” I questioned with one hand on my hip and the other pointing in his face. He didn’t speak nor did his expression change so I continued. “I thought it was outrageous enough that these boys have to practice ball on a church night in the rain, but nooooo! Being set up for a speed trap in the park takes the cake!”
“Ma’am, I’m sorry.” He apologized.
“Well, you should be,” I whispered under my breath.
“I can’t do anything about your son’s practice, but I can assure you I can do something about your speeding,” he said firmly pulling his ticket pad from his coat pocket. “Furthermore,” he added, “if you continue to disrespect my authority, I can do something about that too.”
Disrespect his authority? Is that what I did? Unfortunately, it was exactly what happened. While I’d like to blame my behavior on my hormones, I can’t. I was guilty on all accounts. As I cowered back to my car, I noticed my children’s faces pressed against the window of the backseat. They were no doubt learning how to disrespect authority—from their mother.
I let what I thought were my rights blind me to truth. It was my duty to submit to the authority of the police officer. Regrettably, this kind of behavior goes on everyday in the workplace, the home, and even in the church. Can you imagine what our world would look like today if spouses respected one another, if children honored their parents, and citizens obeyed the laws and authorities? It would be a different world! We would have a feeling of security and with gestures of love freely given and received. Common courtesies would be raised from the dead. We’d make an effort to know our neighbors and lend a helping hand to a stranger. The words “fear” and “anxiety” would be dropped from the human language. Peace and goodwill would be the heartbeat of our existence. I picture a world with people living together in unity, love, and respect as God intended. That world begins with people having a healthy dose of godly fear.
What does it mean when God reveals himself to us as Father and adopts us into His forever family through faith in Jesus Christ? It means you and I should have a childlike reverence for His age, wisdom, power, and authority. We can look to Him as the source for all our needs and feel safe and secure in His love and care. We honor Him as Father by exhibiting the same godly fear that Abraham and Isaac revealed.
Today, the emphasis on honoring fathers is much different than even 100 years ago. No longer do we acknowledge the command, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12), which also applies to the relationship we have with our heavenly Father. Rodney Dangerfield is not the only person who suffers from “no respect.” Our society today has a general lack of respect for fathers. Perhaps, it’s because we have fewer godly fathers who have won the admiration of their children. Maybe television is to blame. Have you noticed that fathers are depicted as idiots in movies, television, and even in cartoons? In the sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the character, Debra, degrades her husband by calling him an idiot whenever he makes a bad judgment. No doubt her action has influenced female viewers to use name calling when displeased with their spouse.
On the other hand, a person with godly fear would never act in such a way. That person would heed the command of God, ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). We show honor to God by displaying reverential esteem of others. Godly fear should motivate us to offer grace by extending an encouraging word instead of thrashing another with a rude comment.