Guest / Limited Access /

This article originally appeared as one of Ruth Graham's By the Way columns in the March 4, 1983 issue of Christianity Today.

The shot through the rattlesnake's head had all but demolished it. The rattler was still twisting on the driveway as the family gathered around to see the latest snake kill. One of the dogs eased forward to finish it off, and the snake struck again. The dog jumped back.

Then one of the grandchildren reached out to touch it. Bill grabbed him and held him back, explaining how deadly even a dead snake can be. The young grandson, totally without fear, was determined to grab its tail. Again the mangled head struck out. The boy jumped back, getting the message. Rattlesnakes and copperheads, the only two poisonous snakes in our region, are to be feared.

"Education," wrote Angelo Patri, "consists in being afraid of the right things."

We taught our children to be careful with matches and to be respectful of open fire; fear of house fires and forest fires prompts sensible precautions. We also taught the children never to run into the street without first carefully looking both ways; a proper fear of cars is also legitimate—as are accepting rides from strangers, using unprescribed drugs, not wearing helmets when riding motorcycles, breaking the law, and dishonoring one's parents or one's country.

There is one grand, noble fear we are taught from Genesis to Revelation. It is "the fear of the Lord." This is more than "being scared of" though there is a hit of that in it, too. It is "a reverential trust," not only a fear of offending, but a loving to the point one would not want to offend.

"In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge" (Prov. 14:26).

"The fear of the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedSarah Young Still Hears Jesus Calling
Subscriber Access Only
Sarah Young Still Hears Jesus Calling
Not since “My Utmost for His Highest” has a daily devotional enraptured the English-speaking world, from cynical intellectuals to sweet grandmas, across the theological spectrum. How Young might change how we think about prayer.
TrendingChristianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
Editor's PickWhat Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
What Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
Rooting our celebration of Christ’s birth more deeply in our lives.
Comments
Christianity Today
Afraid of the Right Things
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

June 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.