Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Awe

Have you ever thought about the word "awesome"?

Inspiring awe.

Inspiring reverence, respect, dread, and wonder.

But you know, I've called pizza awesome. In fact, if anything is even remotely positive, I have a tendency to throw around the word awesome. I blame the 1980s.

I realized in church a while ago, when singing songs about God being "good," that I really have no words in my vocabulary anymore that are reserved for something better than pizza. By casually throwing words like "great," "good," and "awesome" around as slang, I've allowed their power to be diminished.

It's been hard, but I've lately been making an effort to reserve the word "awesome" only for references to God (and God's work). Though it's not easy to avoid my slang-awesome habit (awesome slang habit?), I am trying to convey to God that I truly consider him and his works to be utterly incomparable.

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege and the energy to get outside for a few hours and take some pictures of the fall foliage. The colors of the leaves were breathtaking. Everywhere I turned, there was a new view of color bursting from an unexpected place. It filled me with giddy excitement and a fresh awareness of how beautiful and creative God is.

Last night, I took some time to read about the mitral valve in the heart. It's constructed in 2 cusps, forming a crescent moon shape. It's designed specifically with the pressure in the heart to only open in one direction at perfectly timed intervals. Then, it securely fastens shut in order for blood to pump into the body without any leaks. As I read about the precision and the genius of this one little valve and how it keeps working every beat of our lives, I was filled with a fresh awareness of how incredibly smart and wise God is.

Tonight, I looked at Hubble telescope pictures of the Helix nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, and Saturn, to name a few. I thought about how far away the stars must be, how it takes light millions of years to travel the immense distance between star and earth. I was filled with a fresh awareness of how inconceivably big and powerful God is.

Even with these whispers of God's awesome creation, it's still easy for me to take God for granted. Just as our modern city lights wash out the visual impact of the night sky and cause brilliant stars to appear dim, sometimes my overwhelming problems obscure my view of God's greatness.

I imagined tonight how the stars must have appeared before "light pollution" was ever a problem. How amazing must the view of the night sky have been for the psalmist as he wrote this?

"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)

As I read these words of worship tonight, I was reminded that God's power never diminishes, weakens, or changes. Like the stars, he always shines bright with power, holiness, and love. My view of him can sometimes dim though - due to my casual language, my busyness, or simply failing to stop and reflect before I pray. In hard times, when I come to him in prayer repeatedly, the burden of my unanswered questions can weigh me down to the point where I forget to look up... up into the face of my Father... up to the throne of my King. When my eyes catch a glimpse of how truly awe inspiring God is, then my perspective is changed. I see that he is big enough to fill the universe, old enough to outlast time, and victorious Savior of my soul.

My heart is strengthened when I see anew that our God is an awesome God.

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