Experiencing Awe

It was gorgeous. Just ahead, outside our window as we drove down the highway headed back home.

At first, just glimpses, small sections not blocked by clouds. But as we drove, more and more of the most beautiful rainbow, ever, emerged right before our eyes. It was the closest, largest, most vibrant rainbow I can remember ever seeing. My husband’s comments echoed my thoughts.

And then there were two!

Slack-jawed, I sat soaking up the breath-taking beauty, remembering God’s promises and His faithfulness.

I wish I could say this were the norm – wonderment, awe. But the truth is I often miss out. Preoccupied with thoughts of “where to next,” engrossed in my “to-do’s,” wrapped up in something else, I miss out on the beauty and the wonder right before my eyes.

Self-absorbed, I lack awe.

In today’s culture where so much demands our attention, I think it’s safe to say that “we” lack awe.  Daily schedules, agendas, social media, phones, so much consumes us. If we are honest with ourselves, we are too distracted to “see.”

Awe

We are in desperate need of “awe” moments.

Research shows that when humans experience awe — amazement at rainbows, wonderment at waterfalls, marvel at Monet, raptness at Rachmaninoff — we become less individualistic, less materialistic, and more connected to those around us. In marveling at something greater than ourselves, we become more able to reach out to others and less self-focused.

On first reading, it sounds a little crazy. Doesn’t it? But look again.

Sound Familiar?

It sounds to me a lot like the greatest commandments.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 

Mark 12:30-31

Verse 30 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In other words, marvel (stand in awe) of Someone greater than yourself.

Verse 31 – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Interpretation: reach out to others, show them you care.

Changing Our Focus

Okay, we need “awe” moments, but where and how do we experience them?

It starts with a change of focus.

Consider, that many of us listen to podcasts, read books, and do “Google” searches looking for answers to our most pressing questions such as: “Who am I?” “What’s my purpose in life?” and “Where do I fit?”

However, steeped in self-absorption, our questions are focused on ourselves. “Who am I because of me?”

Instead, what if we change the focus by asking, “Who am I because of Christ?”  Thereby making both our question and the answer about the God of Glory?


Psalm 139

This change of focus applies not only to our question asking, but to our Bible reading as well.

One Scripture passage that stands out as a huge example of often mis-placed focus is Psalm 139.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Psalm 139:14

How often have you heard verse 14 used to build someone’s self-worth? With the focus on us, we declare that each human is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Quoting Scripture, we affirm an individual’s significance.

But when we zoom out and view the verse in context, we see that this passage is not about us but about God. With our focus properly placed, we read that God is fearful and wonderful. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” because God is fearful and wonderful.

A Right and Reverent Awe of God

When we stand in awe, we turn our eyes toward God. (Last night’s rainbow turned my attention away from myself and toward God.) We get caught up in the absolute “otherness” of the God we stand before.

Then, with our gaze firmly fixed, we begin to see God for Who He is.

Awe helps us worry less about ourselves and enable us to love our neighbor.

It also helps us ourselves from a proper perspective: insignificant in our own being, of great significance to our Creator God.

However,

if we are preoccupied with thoughts of “where to next,” engrossed in “to-do’s,” or wrapped up in something else, we will certainly miss out on the beauty, wonder, and majesty right before our eyes.

One comment on “Experiencing Awe

  1. I love that subtle but powerful shift in our perspective that you’re suggesting, Deborah! So crucial and much needed for me today! I’ll be pinning!

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