I wonder — do you?
“O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars and hear the rolling thunder. Thy power throughout the universe displayed.” The words of this classic and very familiar hymn have been echoing repeatedly in the concert hall of my mind these past few weeks. I can almost hear the deep baritone voice of George Beverly Shea as he belts out the chorus of this famous hymn that for so many years served as the signature hymn of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
And specifically, I am called to pause on those three wonderful words: “in awesome wonder”.
When was the last time you sat out in the backyard of your home and looked at the night sky in “awesome wonder”, considering all the worlds that God’s hands have made? Have you ever done so? If you said “No” in answer to that question, I strongly suspect you would not be alone.
We have lost the amazing ability to wonder. Everything is and must be explained to us in full if we are to believe it. Socrates, perhaps the most famous philosopher of all time, once said that philosophy begins with wonder. For all the years I taught at Southern State Community College, one of my constant suggestions for students who want to begin to understand philosophy in a very practical way is to re-cultivate their sense of wonder.
One of my most vivid recollections of “wonder” was the experience I had sitting on the slippery craggy slope at Cliff Top, at the top of Mt. LeConte, in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and watching with absolute “wonder” the sun as it set in the western sky. It was one of the most beautiful sceneries that still cause me to shiver in wonder at the magnificent creative handiwork our God so vibrantly demonstrates in the world around us on a daily basis.
It is so apparent in new babies. In the community in which my bride and I now live, every Tuesday morning I meet for breakfast with a group of guys who call themselves ROMEO’s. That stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out! This week our conversation at one point turned to great-grandkids. And the fellows who have them (I don’t yet!) were like giddy Grandpas, bringing out their phones and passing them around to show us all the pics of their kids, grandkids, and especially great-grandkids. And all we could say is “Wow!”
We find ourselves “in awesome wonder” over the beauty of God’s creative handiwork in creation and new life, but often our sense of wonder becomes dull and de-sensitized.
We are reminded of the challenge to not let that happen to us (becoming de-sensitized to wonder) as we read, in the Old Testament, the book of Lamentations. As Jeremiah the prophet is watching his hometown Jerusalem go up in flames before his very eyes, he is tempted to take the negative route and complain about everything. While he does his share of complaining and lamenting the destruction of the holy city, he comes out on top when he says, “The Lord’s loving-kindnesses (that’s mercies!) indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Here we see that the prophet is not interested in becoming calloused to what God is doing. On the contrary, he is offering an invitation to every one of us to “wonder” every day, to see His compassions and His mercies as brand new and exciting events every day.
He encourages you and me to see that sunrise as if we have never before seen a sunrise, to observe Him working in the lives of men as though it were the first time we had ever seen it.
I remember as if it were yesterday the very first weekend my bride and I had the wonderful opportunity to entertain (and watch) our oldest granddaughter for an overnight adventure. She came home with us and we were going to keep her and take her back to her Mom and Dad the next day.
The little girl seemed a little fussy as we brought her through the front door to our home, so my bride, in her motherly-instinctive way, suggested that we give her a bath. At the very expression of the word “bath”, our little girl changed her countenance and her whole outlook. As she played for a while in the tub, she began to enjoy the set of little rubber ducks that we had bought for her to play with in the tub. With each duck, she would utter the word, “Wow!” Even though she had played with the ducks many times before, this time was just like the first.
That is exactly the way that God wants us to respond to life — with a “Wow!” and “awesome wonder” no matter what transpires with each passing moment. He wants to make a George Beverly Shea out of every one of us. Above all, He wants us not to lose our sense of awesome wonder. He wants us to see His hand in every event, every encounter, every sight, and every word of every day, and He wants us to respond with a wonderful and wild and loud sense of “Wow!”
“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee: ‘How Great Thou Art!’”
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected] .