Over the new year, I went away on a holiday with my family. We didn’t go anywhere particularly fancy, just rented a house down the coast.
But in the course of that week, I experienced so many moments of extraordinary awe:
The vibrant green countryside unfolding around me as I drove down towards Nowra.
Kayaking alone on still water, the setting sun casting a golden glow around the edge of the clouds.
Holding my six-year-old niece’s hand as spectacular fireworks exploded overhead on New Years’ Eve, closer than I’d ever been to them before.
These moments helped me rediscover my capacity for awe. It’s so easy to forget when life is moving too quickly to notice the wonder around you.
Glimpses of glory
This world is beautiful. The rolling green hills, the soft golden sunset, the human ingenuity to produce fireworks.
But they’re not an end in themselves. The wonder of these sights is meant to point us to something higher. Our awe in creation ignites our awe in the Creator. C.S. Lewis once wrote of adoration: “One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.”
As wonderful as it is, there’s something almost painful in awe. A sense of longing underlies the joy. We want it to go on forever. We’re caught up in a moment, but acutely aware that it’s not going to last.
Over my holiday, I wanted the feeling of wonder to keep going on and on. The good news is that it can—and I don’t have to wait until my next holiday to experience it. The true object of my awe is with me all the time. I don’t need to recreate the circumstances of that sunset, but instead run back up those beams to the one who is truly worthy of adoration.
I wonder at the glory of God as I come to know him better, as I read the Bible and pray and spend time among his people. If I’m paying attention, God has given me a thousand moments of awe in each day. I can rejoice whenever I see somebody selflessly sacrifice their own desires, because they know Jesus has done this for them. Or when the superior worth of Jesus kills long-standing temptations in my life.
And of course, I should always be in awe of my own salvation. God has done the miraculous in bringing my dead soul to life, even though I rebel against him constantly.
A day is coming where this wonder will come in full, and last for eternity.
In this life, there are times where I weep with awe at who God is. But this is only a foretaste of what I will see and feel on the final day when Jesus returns:
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
When I see his glory in full, it will far outshine the grass and the sun and the fireworks. Creation itself will shout out with wonder, proclaiming the glory of God.
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
My capacity for awe will grow and grow as I spend eternity with God, never exhausting the riches of his goodness and creativity. The sense of longing will be gone, for I will be in my eternal home. Everything else—every moment of wonder I experience here—points me to that true country.