Performance-Enhancing Thoughts (PETs): Reverence (1)

Reverence

I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.b
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness. [Psalm 145:1-7].

Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) offer to increase or supplement our abilities to accomplishment physical tasks. By contrast, performance-enhancing thoughts heighten our horizon beyond the realm of physical prowess. Sacred thoughts can transform our attitude, motivation and perseverance. Topping the list of such thoughts is reverence.

And His is all that is in the heavens and on earth, and to Him [alone] obedience is always due: will you, then, pay reverence to aught but Him? [Qur’an 16:52].

Most of our thoughts, emotions and feelings are self-centered. This introspection produces an intoxicating perspective that has us continually speaking and listening to ourselves. Unfortunately, it also isolates us from each other, from creation, and from the Divine Reality.

The novelist John Updike has said that “our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe.” The very words sound old-fashioned, and to the degree that they do, to that degree we have strayed from the picture of God revealed in the Old Testament. We cannot box him in, explain him away. God seems a wild and mysterious Other, not a God we can easily figure out. No one tells God what to do (the main point in God’s blistering speech to Job). [Grace Notes: Daily Readings with Philip Yancey].

Streams of Consciousness

Our physical life appears to consist of streams of thoughts that are forever flowing through our mind, with our body translating these thoughts into emotions, feelings and action. Every living cell participates, as a chorus, repeating in physical terms what our mind is processing. We thus have the sense of actually participating in an unfolding saga.

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1 John 2:16-17 (NLT)].

We blend our thoughts together into a continuing drama that presents a new episode every day, perhaps every moment. Addicted to secular existence, we willingly pay in pain and despair for its momentary pleasures. Can we transcend this illusion by the process of spiritual awakening?

“Fear-of-the-Lord is not studying about God but living in reverence before God. We don’t so much lack knowledge, we lack reverence. Fear-of-the-Lord is not a technique for acquiring spiritual know-how but a willed not-knowing. It is not so much know-how we lack; we lack a simple being-there. Fear-of-the-Lord, nurtured in worship and prayer, silence and quiet, love and sacrifice, turns everything we do into a life of “breathing God. [Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, p.44].

Success as a State of Mind

Is success a state of mind, is happiness a condition of being, is contentment a way of seeing things? Whatever they are, they seems to be surrounded by thoughts.

Our happiness and satisfaction often find substance through our body, but are housed in our mind. Our thoughts identify success, reflect on it, remember it, and, of course, enjoy it. But, when things don’t go as we like, when thoughts change, does our happiness slip away?

 All peace and happiness in this world depend upon unreserved self-oblation to God. If this be hearty and entire, the result will be an unfailing, ever-increasing happiness, which nothing can disturb. There is no real happiness in this life save that which is the result of a peaceful heart. [Jean Nicolas (J N) Grou, The Hidden Life of the Soul].

Reverence Defined

Reverence is a complex mental state shaped by our beliefs, feelings and emotions. It disposes us to act in ways that manifest respect, honor, admiration and awe. This includes worship, adoration, homage and veneration.

Change from the inside out will always be, in the final analysis, a work of God and must therefore remain a mystery. Remembering this can help us keep realistic expectations of any teaching on change as well as reverence for the God whose ways are far above ours. [Larry Crabb, Inside Out].

As an emotion, reverence is a subjective response that acknowledges the legitimacy of a superior power. When we feel profound awe and respect inwardly, we manifestation this feeling by bending the head, body or our knees, as a sign of submission.

Faith is not belief, an assent to a proposition, faith is attachment to transcendence, to the meaning beyond the mystery. Knowledge is fostered by curiosity; wisdom is fostered by awe. Awe precedes faith; it is the root of faith. We must be guided by awe to be worthy of faith. Forfeit your sense of awe, let your conceit diminish your ability to revere, and the world becomes a market place for you. The loss of awe is the avoidance of insight. A return to reverence is the first prerequisite for a revival of wisdom, for the discovery of the world as an allusion to God. [Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Who is Man? p. 89].

Reverence is often accompanied by fear and humility. However, it is not the fear of physical harm, nor the humility of common etiquette.

Reverence is not aroused by impending danger, evil or pain, whether real or imagined. It is not expected social behavior based on conventional codes of society.

The modern Christian has lost a sense of worship along with the concept of majesty, and of course, reverence as well. He has lost his ability to withdraw inwardly and commune in the secret place with God in the shrine of his own hidden spirit. It is this that makes Christianity, and we have all but lost it. Added numbers, yes, but lost fear. Multiplied schools, yes, but lost awareness of the invisible. Tons of literature being poured out, of course, but no consciousness of the divine Presence. Better communication, certainly, but nothing to communicate. Evangelistic organizations, yes, but the concept of majesty and worship and reverence has almost left us. [A. W. Tozer, Tozer on the Almighty God: A 366-Day Devotional, p. 27].

Our awareness of the Divine acknowledges the supreme dominion of God, and His complete power over us. This submission glorifies God in all aspects of existence, producing a continuum of reverence that produces ceaseless worship.

“Astonished reverence” is a good paraphrase for worship, as is “admiration to the point of wonder and delight” … That is the true outcome of renovation of the thought life. The first request in The Lord’s Prayer is, “Hallowed by Thy name.” It is first because it is the most important one. To the extent that God is exalted in the minds of people, and His very name is cherished with utmost respect, everything else goes right. [Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart].

Almighty God rules with perfect authority. He does whatever He wishes. His will is absolute. There is no disputing the sovereignty of God.

Contemporary sentiment, popular opinion and prevailing judgment do not influence the command of God. He does not seek our approval.

God is not an elected official. His sovereignty does not depend on endorsement by humanity. He is the Master, the Ruler, the Lord of the universe.

Hence, bear with patience whatever they [who deny the truth] may say, and extol thy Sustainer’s limitless glory and praise Him before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and extol His glory, too, during some of the hours of the night as well as during the hours of the day, so that thou might attain to happiness. [Quran 20:130].

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