Were You There?
Our choir anthem this Sunday says, “Sometimes it causes me to tremble.” When you think about what Jesus did for you, and what was done to Him because of your sin, do you ever tremble? Do you think you ought to tremble?
Trembling is altogether appropriate when we face God. It is not something we should think we have no need of this side of the cross. Just because He is Abba Father does not mean He is any less the Fear of Jacob, the Consuming Fire in whose presence sin cannot dwell. The same David who danced with joy before Him and wrote of His love also wrote of trembling in worship (Psalm 96:9). The righteous man, Isaiah, when faced with the splendor of the Almighty on the throne, was undone. And he wrote about the necessity of trembling at His words (Isaiah 66:2, 5).
Isaiah records the words of God, “This is the one I will esteem, he who is humble and contrite of spirit and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). The Lord seeks those who take Him, His words, and His actions seriously enough that they tremble when contemplating them. This is as true for us today as for those who had yet to see the grace of God worked out through the Messiah (Philippians 2:12).
When we have ceased to tremble at the cost of our sin, it is perhaps that we have forgotten or never understood the actual peril we were in while unredeemed. Perhaps we have not comprehended the true penalty for unrepented sin and never allowed ourselves to contemplate the horrors of an eternity in hell. Maybe we have yet to grasp how much holy God hates, hates sin, and that His wrath on sin was destined to fall on us. The horrible reality of what would face us if He had not drawn us to Himself is staggering. Imagine for a moment that He had not called you to be His child. That thought should cause us to tremble.
But the thought of what Jesus did in order to rescue us from such a fate should also cause us to tremble. Imagine that you were driving unsafely and your car crashed and began to burn while you were trapped inside. Now you are facing the very real specter of dying an agonizing death. But suddenly, someone, at great risk to himself, pulled you from the car and pushed you to safety just before the car exploded. Would you not tremble with relief from the terror? And what if this person who saved you was caught in the explosion and died after having saved you? Knowing that it was your own recklessness that had caused the accident and then the death of your rescuer, would you not also tremble for the horror of the suffering you had caused? Is it much different when we contemplate the cross and the cost of our sin and just punishment, laid on another? Does it cause you to tremble? Shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t we tremble at the reality of our peril? Shouldn’t we tremble at the cost of the gift of our salvation? Shouldn’t we tremble with love and joy for the One who saved us?
A friend and I exchange verses each year to pray for one another. A few years ago, she chose the verse I mentioned above, Isaiah 66:2. Her desire was to have more awe of God, to tremble appropriately in His presence. We all would do well to make this a goal in our spiritual lives—to pursue a deeper reverence, a more profound awe, a grander understanding of His holiness, sovereignty, greatness, power, and majesty. We would do well to ask Him to blow the sides off the boxes we’ve placed on Him so that we might know Him for who He really is, not the safe image of God we create for our comfort.
This is a courageous prayer. It is one that, if we understood the full impact of it, would start the trembling immediately. It takes a lot of trust to say to God, Show me who You really are, so I may tremble in Your presence. Our flesh wants to pull back from such a prayer and quiver. Our fear is that He might actually answer it, and do so in ways we can’t control. It is a prayer that can only be prayed by one who deeply believes that this untameable Deity is also the Abba Father, the One who demonstrated His love for us by giving His own life. Yes, He may cause us to tremble, but it will be in ways that will result in a joy and a glory we could never know apart from giving ourselves over to such an act of trust and confidence in Him.
Sometimes it causes me to tremble. Are these merely words on the page, or have you, do you, will you tremble in His presence? Let us pray that we will know more of this holy trembling in our lives and in our worship.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries