Oh, the depths of the riches
both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?
For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen.
– Romans 11:33-36
My 1 year old daughter looks up and stares in absolute amazement at the water coming out of the shower head when she’s having a shower. It is a look of wonder. It captivates her. I imagine her trying to work out why the water is pouring out.
Kids have an innate ability to see the world through eyes full of wonder. They seem to notice colours, textures, movements that by-pass me as an adult. Why is it that somewhere in the process of growing up we lose our ability to simply be captured with wonder?
Paul is wonderstruck as he pens Romans 11:33-36. As he writes about everything God has done, how could he not be in awe? Just look at his words – ‘depths,’ ‘unsearchable,’ ‘untraceable.’ Look at the questions – ‘who has known’, ‘who has been’, ‘ who has ever given’. Paul isn’t just giving lip service. He is responding from a place of wide eyed wonder.
Sadly, many followers of Jesus I talk to seem to have lost this sense of wonder when it comes to God. Maybe we are content to go through the motions as we follow Jesus. Perhaps we just think we are too mature to be wonderstruck. Or maybe it’s because we are so intent on figuring out and explaining God, that we fail to embrace his mystery.
Although Rachel Held Evens isn’t my cup of tea, she makes a good point:
‘It’s a frightful thing – thinking you have to get God right in order to get God to love you, thinking you are always one error away from damnation… The moment we figure God out, God ceases to be God. Maybe it’s time to embrace the mystery and let ourselves off the hook.’
This doesn’t mean being ignorant. We try to understand who God is. We read the Bible, commentaries, and listen to sermons. But after looking at everything, we realise it’s OK that God, who has made himself known to us, is beyond our ability to fully understand. This creates tension but rather than it being a source of fear, it should be a source of wonder.
Here’s one way that you can recapture a sense of wonder when you think about God in your life today.
Embracing Beauty – One Sure Way to Recapture the Wonder of God in your Life
Wonder is an emotion. Since I’ve been blogging I’ve noticed one thing, when an idea captures my heart, the post is easy to write. Words flow. Sentences string themselves together. Images form naturally. The opposite happens when I’m not gripped.
What happens when wonder grips your heart? Paul changes his writing, suddenly he gets poetic. This is what wonder does. It moves us beyond the mind and captures our senses. It might be music, nature, a painting, or literature. Beauty can sweep us away to see amazingness of God, if we look and listen.
I love richness of the final words of C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle. He invites the reader to participate in the ‘Great Story.’
‘Then Aslan turned to them and said:
“You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”
Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”
“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”
“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother are and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All of their life in this world and all of their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which ever chapter is better than the one before.’
Doesn’t this capture you? Isn’t this the God who writes eternity on the hearts of people? The one who promises to dwell with his people, and make all things new. And he invites us into this story that’s too great and beautiful to write.
Look at Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal. See the father’s arms wrapped around the son. He’s been watching and ran out to meet the son. He’s restored him back into the family. The son doesn’t deserve this. He’s done nothing to earn it.
When was the last time you sat in nature and watched a spider weave its web? Or heard a kookaburra slowly begin to laugh from the trees above? Or smelt the salty freshness ocean air as waves roll over your toes? What a wonder it is to consider that the one who created such a beautiful world will make it even better one day.
The Purpose of Wonder
It is not enough to just be in wonder before God. That is to say, being amazed by God isn’t the end. It has to lead us somewhere – worship. If Paul words at the end of Romans 11 weren’t worship enough, he emphasises it by instructing people to become ‘living sacrifices’ (Rom. 12:1). Paul’s whole point is worship.
Ravi Zacharias sums up the relationship between wonder and worship well:
‘In short, wonder is captured in one word – worship. When we have learned what worship is, we have experienced what wonder is. Worship is a personal thing before it goes public. It is an individual thing before it is part of a community. It is a disciplined thing before it is natural.’
At the end of the day, if wonder doesn’t drive you to God then you haven’t understood it. What’s going on if his amazing love and unending grace, his beauty in creation, or the certainty of his promises don’t move you? The reality is, God isn’t really there to impress you. He is impressive. The moment you see that and respond ‘Wow!’ is where worship starts.
What ways can you rekindle the wonder of God in your life?