Recapturing the Wonder (Part 2)

I admit, so many church services are simply boring. Mind you, I understand they are not meant to be entertaining, that is not what I mean. But often they are fairly informal, nice, and passionless. Many of the songs seem to be more about how much God loves us than how majestic and awesome (in the truest sense of the word) He is. Many of today’s sermons seem either like a stale lecture or a cheesy pep rally. One will tend to hear about how cool the worship was or the fun event that went on. But how often does one hear, “God was there, today! He got our attention! It was no social club today! No sir!”

Part of the reason, I believe, is we do not go with reverence or expectancy. Furthermore, often we make church about us rather than God. In fact, there are some churches who have taken out references to the blood of Jesus in their hymnals because it is “offensive,” but take out the blood and you cease to have Christianity altogether. But I digress.

The prophet Isaiah got a glimpse of God’s glory and it changed him.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” ~ Isaiah 6:1-8

When Isaiah was in the presence of God, he was not only amazed but he was also convicted of his sin. Furthermore, he did not argue the point that his lips were not unclean. Be certain of this—any time a person is truly in the holy presence of God, he or she will not stand there trying to justify him or herself. Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me! I am lost!” The Hebrew word for lost is Damah, which means to cease, to be destroyed and left desolate. “This verb depicts a violent end.” [1]

The presence of God shook Isaiah to the core.

In the New Testament we read:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ~ Acts 2:42

It was during this time as the people devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship of believers, the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer that they witnessed astounding moves of God.

The problem today is not that God had ceased to move, bring revivals, etc.; rather, the problem is we have discarded reverence and lost our sense of wonder. When God’s Word declares something as sin, we want to fight with Him about it. We want to make everything about us and what we want, instead of coming to Him with genuine recognition that He is God (hence, we are not). 

One can only speculate as to what could happen if we were to recapture the wonder of the Lord and surrender to Him. 

[1] Spiros Zodhaites, The Complete Word Study Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG, 1994), 2310.

Recapturing the Wonder (Part 1)

One of the delightful things to observe in toddlers is their sense of wonder, to see a smile on their little faces when beholding the seemingly trivial, and hearing them utter, “Whoa!” along with giggles. They laugh at a sneeze, they delight in an intimate game of peek-a-boo with Mom, and they are amazed watching a butterfly.

Somehow, as we grow older we become more “sophisticated” and our sense of wonder becomes atrophied. Sadly, this happens in the lives of believers, too. Why? For certain, life does not become less marvelous. 

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. ~ Psalm 19:1-6

When I was working on my undergraduate studies, I was in a class on human anatomy. It was fascinating to me just how complex the human body is. From the various systems (e.g., cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, etc.) to the cellular and DNA. Although our teacher is a Christian, he never opened or closed class with prayer, nor did he ever reference the Scriptures. Yet, the class was a very theological class to me. I marvel that anyone in the medical field remains an atheist. Throughout my studies in anatomy I continuously remembered the words of the psalmist, 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. ~ Psalm 139:13-14

Is it not strange that people will marvel over the latest technological gadget (of which no one ever questions or denies there being a creator behind the scenes), yet the human brain and mind still baffle the best of doctors and educators? Is it not unfortunate that people can be so impressed by others dunking a ball or acting on a screen, while being totally oblivious of the true wonders all around them (e.g., a baby being formed in the womb, the blossoming of flowers, a tree coming forth from a seed, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, the strength and productivity of ants, etc.)? The complexity and orderliness around us constantly declare the glory of God, so how have we lost our sense of wonder—even within the walls of many of our churches?

Our loss of wonder (and for some unbelief) is neither trivial nor a mistake. We allow ourselves to become busy and distracted, we close our eyes, we shut our ears, or we harden our hearts. Blaise Pascal observed that our distractions, in part, stem from having not to think about our wretchedness (fallen condition) and mortality. The Bible declares our lack of wonder and rejection of it is inexcusable.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. ~ Romans 1:19-21

As Christians, our lack of wonder is sin, plain and simple. If we have lost our wonder, then it means our hearts have been wooed and distracted by the vain philosophies (see Col. 2:8) of this world and/or by the desires of the sinful nature. If we have lost our sense of wonder and taken our focus off the glory of Christ, then we need to repent.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. ~ Revelation 2:4-5

May the Holy Spirit blow upon the embers in our hearts and rekindle an awakening and passion for Christ! May He help us to recapture our sense of wonder, and help us to see the glory that is continually manifested all around us.