Thursday, February 14, 2019

From Ruth to Rich: Be Afraid of the Right Things

As I read late Billy Graham’s Just As I Am (1997) autobiography, I’m encouraged by his wife, Ruth Bell, for her life, support, and works in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ministry. About Ruth, Billy writes, “God gave Ruth many, many gifts, one of which was writing.” I agree. In this series, I try to imagine (one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind) what would Ruth Bell says to encourage young man like me – and perhaps, you. I hope you enjoy it!

My dearest son, Richard,

The shot through the rattlesnake’s head had all but demolished it. The snake was twisting on the driveway, and we all gathered to look at it. One of your nephews reached out to touch it but your dad, Bill, grabbed him and held him back, explaining that even a dead snake can be deadly. Still, your nephew was totally without fear and determined to grab the snake’s tail. But as he reached for it, the snake’s mangled head struck out. He jumped back, getting the message: Rattlesnakes are to be feared.

Son, education, it has been said, consists of being afraid of the right things. All this while, when you were young, Bill and I taught you and your siblings to be careful with matches and open flames; fear of house fires and forest fires prompts sensible precautions. We also taught you all not to run into the street without looking both ways; a proper fear of cars is also legitimate.

There is one grand, noble fear we are taught from Genesis to Revelation – fear of the Lord. This is more than being scared. It is a reverential trust, not only a fear of offending but a loving to the point that one would not want to offend. My son, I underlined this verse this morning: “The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:5-6). Wonderful!

Mommy loves you,

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