The Awe Worthy of Praise
by Shaun Murray
Over the next several months our newsletter will be written by one of our elder candidates as a way for him to develop his ministry to the church.
As we heard a couple weeks ago, our lives are filled with Awe in things and an Awe in God. I would like to expand on that for this March newsletter.
What a joy it is to worship with you all at Jordan Valley Church. I am very thankful for the Lord’s providence in bringing Rachel, Éowyn and me out here to Utah and for giving me the opportunity to go through the elder training. My heart rejoices in the gift and opportunity ahead, and I am in Awe of our Great God.
“Awe” is a word that is very hard to grasp. If I say, “Be in Awe,” what does that really mean? The dictionary on Google says: “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.” The synonyms of it are: “wonder,” “amazement,” “veneration,” and “worship.”
Let’s dive into a few points on Awe:
1. God created an awesome world
God’s creation was made to bring us in Awe of Him and his creation, to bring us into wonder and amazement: The first time we see a waterfall, hear it crashing, and feel the power exploding as the water lands before our feet. The first time we feel a baby kick in her mother’s womb. The first time we step out and see the Grand Canyon--the amazing beauty of the red rock. The first time we taste ice cream as a child and say, “Wow, I want more.” The first time we go to that fine dining restaurant, have that expensive meal, and the flavors burst on our taste buds. The first time we see that person and say, “Wow, I want to marry them.” The first time we wake up at night to a rumbling earthquake, afraid and yet amazed. All these things God has created to bring us to wonder, to bring us to say, “Wow, how amazing this world is.”
2. God created us with a capacity for Awe
We don’t only live in a creation filled with Awe, but we also live as those created to experience Awe. We can tell good-tasting food from bad-tasting food. We know the difference between an amazing symphony that is in harmony and people just learning how to play violin. We know when someone looks beautiful on the outside. We can see details of colors and hues on the thousands of different things we see every day. We can touch the clothing that is smooth, silky, bumpy, rough, grooved, and so on. We can taste the cold of ice cream, the bitter of ginger, and the sweet favorite candy. Every one of our senses leads us to experience the Awe and wonder of the creation that our Great God has made.
3. Where we look for Awe will direct our life
If our Awe is in material things, then our lives will be defined by searching for material things. If we live in Awe of material things, we will spend lots of money acquiring material possessions, and to afford this ever-increasing pile, we will work a lot. We will work longer and harder to afford that bigger house, that nicer truck, and that camping trailer to travel around the world. If we live in Awe of people and our relationships, we will spend most of our time thinking about how we can have the right relationship. Young people will spend most of their waking time thinking about how to get that special someone. Once they have them it will be a constant focus of how to hold on tight to the relationship, and if they lose that person or that child or that relationship, then their whole world unravels. I could go on and on, but I hope you get the point.
4. All of these created things were meant to bring our ultimate Awe in God.
The waterfalls, grand canyons, tastes, colors, relationships, and people are all awesome things. God created us to enjoy the world, but not have that be where we stop. For what is our purpose in life, as Westminster Question 1 asks? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. As you live your life, know that all these wonderful and awesome things were not meant to be your ultimate source of satisfaction. God is--God is the all-satisfying one who is to be pointed to and praised for each scoop of ice cream, each waterfall seen, each camper trailer that brings you to amazing places in the US, each relationship and person that you enjoy to be around and talk with. All of this is meant to point you to our Great God who is worthy to be praised and his great acts, which are worthy to be told from one generation to another. So stop right know and thank and praise the Lord for all these things that bring you Awe.
Go on, stop right now and do it.
Horizontal Awe in creation, relationships and things is like a street sign. It points you to the one truly worthy of vertical Awe: our Great God--Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
5. Remember that Awesome stuff and people never satisfy
Nothing in the entire world is meant to give you peace, rest, identity, meaning, purpose, or lasting satisfaction. As St. Augustine said “Our hearts are restless until we find rest in Him.” Looking to people or stuff to satisfy our internal desire will only lead us to futility. The things of this world were not meant to do that even though culture and every advertisement we see on TV proclaims that idea.
Instead, look to the Lord Jesus Christ crucified, crushed, risen in glory, ascended in Heaven and pouring forth his Holy Spirit upon the earth as the King of Awe--worthy of praise and worthy of thanksgiving.
Join me in this wonderful, Life-giving way to Live.
Remember this quote by CS Lewis, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Let this not be us at Jordan Valley Church, but let us pray for each other this month to seek our infinite joy in the Lord that created all things, even the feeling of JOY.
One last thing, I encourage all of you to buy or check out the book Awe: Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do.