I don’t know what has caused it, whether it is just that I am at home, looking out into the garden more or whether reduced noise, traffic and pollution has had an affect but I am suddenly alert to a greater diversity of wildlife around me, baby foxes frolicking, birds landing to find food, insects and butterflies moving in amongst an array of flowers and plants. The other Saturday I looked out and like many people was captivated by the double rainbow set against a dark sky as the thunderstorm came in.
Meanwhile both Sarah and I have been enjoying hour long walks. One of my favourite walks takes me through the park and around the lake. The other day I was excited to see a swan carrying its babies on its back. We also get to see the same people out and about living their lives too.
Psalm 4:4 in some versions says
“Stand in Awe and sin not”
Some translations including the Septuagint read “Be angry and sin not” and Paul picks up on this in Ephesians when he tells his readers not to sin in their anger. However, the original word has a range of meanings that can include anger but also trembling, fear and awe. I think the broader sense of awe and trembling is best in the context of a Psalm which is all about turning to God and trusting him in the middle of distress and anxiety (v1). It sets a contrast to those who instead turn away from God, dishonouring him and worship idols (v2-3). Instead, God’s awestruck people trust him to provide for them, to bless them (v6-7) and to find peace and rest in him (v6).
We are so tempted by idolatry in different ways. We have learnt to cling on to things that this world suggests will provide hope and satisfaction, our status, our work, entertainment, money etc. Trust in those foundations is being shaken at the moment by the pandemic and by the economic aftershocks that are following.
We can even become idolatrous as we look at nature and worship it instead of the creator.
We can be caught up in grief and bitterness towards others who have hurt us and resentment at being let down so the instruction to stand in awe and not to sin is vital. Instead of sinning, awe leads me to worship and once again realise that my life is safe in the hands of my loving, creator God and heavenly father.
Every time I pause to see something of creation’s beauty again it is a reminder of God’s goodness to me. That goodness is seen most of all in the Gospel. I am thankful that lockdown has enabled me to rediscover something of awe.