When Was The Last Time You Experienced Awe?
Answer this question? When was the last time something literally took your breath away or at least stirred up unbelievable positive emotions? For most of us those experiences are few and far between. But a recent book I read on awe got me thinking about how often I should experience that kind of wonder in life.
An important beginning is to define awe. It is experiences what many psychologists call self transcendent. They shift our attention away from ourselves and make us feel like we are a part of something greater than ourselves. For the Christian we would simply call that shift worshipping God. But candidly when many of us worship, we may feel joy, but to experience something like we have entered another dimension doesn’t happen very often.
But God should stir awe in our lives. After all to have the creator of the universe actually communicate with us personally should cause immense pleasure and wonderment beyond anything we can describe.
Look how these Scriptures explain it:
· Exodus 15:11, “Who compares with you among gods, O God? Who compares with you in power, in holy majesty, in awesome praises, wonder working God?”
· Psalm 33:8, “Let everyone in the world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of Him.”
· Hebrews 12:28, “Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”
Some of you might be thinking that these Scriptures describe people that see unusual miracles like the parting of the Red Sea or Jesus raising someone from the dead. While this is true, many of these expressions of awe are what believers experience as a natural part of life.
Awe not only can be experienced in the spiritual realm, but also in the natural realm as well. Nature can produce feelings of wonderment and speechless moments. Being with certain people that we love can evoke similar feelings. Entertainment venues like plays, concerts, or even reading a book can stimulate our emotions where words cannot accurately explain what we are feeling.
Look again at how Scripture describes awe in the natural realm:
· Psalm 19:1, “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.”
· Psalm 65:8, “Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.”
Research also shows that experiencing awe can produce benefits. Awe can reduce stress by calming our nervous system. It also can make us more generous to others because of the appreciation we get out of life.
For me, when God answers my prayers, it produces awe in me. When I meditate on my relationships, especially the amazing woman God has given me for my wife, I get emotional and feel very grateful. This after 40 years of marriage, I never take for granted. When I see the incredible greenery in our area exploding in color as the plants and vegetation emerge from winter, it evokes waves of speechless wonder.
We have a great grandson who is three years old. Watching him experience life, I get to see awe in so many things that I take for granted. The other day we were in our back yard where he saw some snails. He was completely fascinated on how the snails moved and would jump back in their shell when scared. I admit snails aren’t something that inspires awe in my book, but watching him I realized how important it is to see in the world around us the wonderment of life.
I have come to believe that God wants all of us to see even in the daily activities of life examples of amazing activity and beauty. The key I am discovering is that I need to allow myself time to experience awe.
In our backyard, Maria has planted numerous plants that many of which produce beautiful flowers. I am learning the importance of just taking time to sit on the porch and stare at those plants and flowers, appreciating the beauty of God’s creation and standing in awe at his handiwork.
I am also asking myself, in what ways can I experience awe more? I am convinced that if I just look around in nature, think deeply about the relationships I have and what special people I know, and meditating more on what God has done for me, that awe will become more of my life.
So here is a question for you. What gives you awe and how can you experience more of it? I think answering that question can give you a glimpse of what heaven will feel like.