“Let’s go have some fun and heckle those stuffy churchgoers!” With a fiendish chuckle, twenty-year-old Joachim [wa-KEEM] Neander sauntered through the twisting streets of Bremen, Germany. Several rowdy and rebellious fellow students accompanied him, eager to provoke a preacher. Yet Joachim’s family line included faithful preachers of the Gospel! For four generations, the name “Joachim” had been bestowed upon the family’s baby boys. Joachim’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather were all named “Joachim.” But this young Joachim disdained his ancestors’ callings. Now in college, he wholeheartedly joined others in riotous living.
That particular morning, Joachim had no idea how his life would change. Entering a church with the intent to disrupt the sermon, his attitude quickly changed from being disrespectful to being reverent as the Holy Spirit opened the young man’s eyes and heart to the Gospel message. Convicted, the rebellious young man repented and gave his life to Jesus Christ.
For several years afterward, Mr. Neander served as an assistant to the preacher who had led him to the Lord. Next, Mr. Neander began tutoring other young men while holding a position at a school in Dusseldorf.
A vibrant believer, he encouraged prayer and preaching at the school. Not far from Dusseldorf, the Dussel River ran through a beautiful gorge where Mr. Neander loved to walk. He went there so often that people eventually began calling it “Neander Valley.”
At the age of thirty, Mr. Neander was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After only ten years of loving and serving his Savior, the young pastor and teacher passed from this life to Heaven. During his illness, he wrote the hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Reverence is “awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me.” As we recognize God’s loving work in our lives, our hearts will be turned to exalt Him. Mr. Neander’s hymn testifies of his reverence for God:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him,
for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath,
come now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen Sound from His people again:
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
No matter who or what God allows in our lives, whether pleasant or unpleasant, we can trust and praise Him. As we trust God and His goodness in all things, we will develop reverence for Him. We can joyfully worship God, Who is worthy of all our praise!