Some years ago, the movie, "The Nativity Story," came out. When I saw the movie, one of the things I loved was the face of an old shepherd when he approached the creche where Jesus lay. The word that came to mind as I watched the expression on his face was "wonder." During this Advent season, I want to seek and practice a sense of wonder. One translation of Luke 2:18 says, "All they that heard what the shepherds said wondered at those things." In Job 37:14, Job invites us to meditate on the "wonders of God."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, "We must not cease to wonder at the great marvels of our God. It would be very difficult to draw a line between holy wonder and real worship; for when the soul is overwhelmed with the majesty of God's glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores. (Don't you love that?) Our incarnate God is to be worshiped as "the Wonderful". Spurgeon goes on to say, "Let our soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder is in this way a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship and heartfelt thanksgiving and will cause within you godly watchfulness."
This morning I woke up quite early, a little before 5 a.m. and simply could not get back to sleep. After tossing and turning several times, I finally got up, made my coffee, lit a candle, and sat down in "my" chair on the front porch. Normally, I jump right into my devotional book or Bible reading, but today, I simply sat and gazed out at the house lights shining on the lake. It was very quiet and I just asked God to amaze me in some way today...to show me His wonder. As I prayed and watched, the sky began to grow lighter and a beautiful pink tone etched the clouds. The longer I watched, the more beautiful it became, until I was no longer satisfied to view the brilliant sunrise through the window. I was drawn to walk out on the deck, to see the picture unobscured. I was filled with a sense of wonder at our God who loves to delight us in so many ways.
I've been re-reading a book by Brennan Manning called, "The Ragamuffin Gospel." In one chapter, Manning says our world has lost its sense of wonder. God is being edged out by science and advances in civilization. He says, "we get so preoccupied with ourselves, the words we speak, the plans and projects we conceive that we become immune to the glory of creation." Manning tells of the Celtic church in Ireland who for centuries regarded the world with a clear vision of faith. When a young Celtic monk saw his cat catch a salmon swimming in shallow water, he cried out, "The power of the Lord is in the paw of the cat." The Celtic chronicles tell of wandering sailor monks of the Atlantic, seeing the angels of God and hearing their song as they rose and fell over the western islands. To the scientific person they were the calls of seagulls, and gannets, puffins, cormorants and kittiwakes, but the monks lived in a world where everything was the word of God to them, in which the love of God was apparent to anyone. They cherished the scriptures but they also cherished God's ongoing revelation in His world of grace."
Manning encourages us to not only wonder at the magnificence of the created world, but also at God's grace visible in the lives of those around us. We should be "astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open as we gaze at His love." He shares the story of a rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel. "After suffering a near fatal heart attack, he was barely able to whisper to his friend, "Sam, I feel only gratitude for my life, for every moment that I have lived. Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder and He gave it to me."
As we move through our days the rest of this advent season and into the New Year, let us be watchful for God as He comes to us in many ways, and be "lost in wonder, love, and praise."