The Bible says that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Today we don’t speak much of this. Our images of God have tended to grow smaller and more comfortable. What does it mean to fear the Lord? We have no need to be afraid that God will do mean or destructive things. We do not need to be afraid that God’s love is not fully trustworthy. One of C. S. Lewis’s characters expresses fear at the prospect of meeting his Christfigure, the great lion Aslan, and wonders if he is quite safe. “Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he’s not safe. But he’s good.” This fear involves reverence and awe, a healthy recognition of who God is. It also involves recognition of our fallenness. But worship reminds me that the day will come when our fallenness will be utterly healed. In that day we will fully realize the truth of the saying that “perfect love casts out fear.”
When we worship, we look forward to the day when fear will be as defeated and destroyed as sin, guilt, and death. Worship, therefore, in reminding us of this powerful God who is for us, becomes one of the great weapons against fear. Dallas Willard writes: “Holy delight and joy is the great antidote to despair and is a wellspring of genuine gratitude—the kind that starts at our toes and blasts off from our loins and diaphragm through the top of our head, flinging our arms and our eyes and our voice upward toward our good God.”
In worship I declare that God is real. In worship my perception of reality is changed and sharpened. In worship I remember that reality is more than what I can see and touch. In worship I acknowledge that I look at a shrunken God on a regular basis, looking at him through the wrong end of the telescope. So in worship, at its heart, we magnifyGod. Worship enlarges my capacity to experience and understand God.
This is why the story of Peter walking on the water must end in worship. Worship, in a sense, closes the loop on the whole story. Worship consolidates and expresses the disciples’ new understanding of who Jesus is. Peter gets into the boat, and the other disciples ask him, “How big is Jesus, anyway?” Peter throws his hands up high over his head and says, “Jesus is sooo big!” Jesus gets into the boat, the wind dies down, the storm runs away to wherever it is storms go when God sends them off, and suddenly the disciples have a deeper understanding of who is in the boat with them. “Truly you are the Son of God.” And all the disciples raise their hands up over their heads. Soooo big!
So it always is when somebody gets out of the boat. When human beings get out of the boat, they are never quite the same. Their worship is never quite the same. Their world is never quite the same. Whatever the results, whether they sink or swim, something will have changed. This is true for you. From this point on, for the rest of your life, every time you walk on the water, each time you trust God and seek to discern and obey his calling on your life, your God will get bigger, and your worship will grow deeper, richer, and stronger. That is because Jesus is not finished yet. He is still looking for people who will dare to trust him. He is still looking for people who will refuse to allow fear to have the final word. He is still looking for people who refuse to be deterred by failure. And this is an opportunity to answer his call. This is your chance of a lifetime. Just remember one thing: If you want to walk on the water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.
© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Visit JohnOrtberg.com for more about John Ortberg’s work and ministry.