News and Views
Wonder and Awe
Trusting, humble dependence was probably one of the most important characteristics which Jesus had in mind when He said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3 NIV) However, I suspect that He was also impressed with the way little children have such a sense of delight, wonder and awe as they discover the works of God's hands. These little ones take nothing for granted, but are amazed and delighted as they discover each new thing, as they feel the grass, smell a flower, see a tiny bird or butterfly sail through the air. They frolic in warm rain, splash through puddles, run with the wind in their hair. They enjoy a climbing tree more than any fancy playground equipment and gaze in awe at a beautiful sunset. When they have the opportunity, little children instinctively appreciate the marvel of God's creation.
Unfortunately, as we grow older we tend to lose that sense of wonder and become accustomed to the way things are. In schools, instead of teaching the marvelous processes and interactions in living things, everything is reduced to numbers, made abstract. We hear science's real explanations or imagined rationalizations (theories) for the various phenomena around us and lose the awe. We develop other interests and concerns and stop paying attention. Responsibilities and activities crowd out quiet contemplation and enjoyment of our natural surroundings. We are poorer for that.
The Bible fully appreciates the wonder of creation. In Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV) we are reminded, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." In Romans 1:20 (NIV), Paul wrote, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Clearly, the delight, wonder and awe with which little children approach creation is God inspired, and something that we would be wise to retain and encourage in others for all of our lives.
There are many ways to do this, ranging from the outdoor vacation to plants and pets in our homes. Houseplants, like all plants, return pure oxygen to the air through the process of photosynthesis, and some of them also are known to remove toxins from the air. Therefore, we can bring a part of God's creation to grow in our homes, even in the depths of winter, and marvel at the wisdom with which He created with complexity, making things both beautiful and physically useful. The depths of winter are also a good time to enjoy another aspect of God's creation, the little birds that sing. Somewhere I read that wild birds which are fed over winter are able to successfully raise one more baby each year. I hope that is true for the chickadees, red polls, downy and hairy woodpeckers, purple finches, flickers, white breasted and red breasted nuthatches which come regularly to the feeders I have hung out and keep filled. There is so much delight to be found in watching these small examples of God's limitless creation and thanking Him for them.
It is also well recognized that walking outdoors in natural settings has both a calming and an uplifting effect on people. This is even truer when we make a point of noticing the plants, animals and birds around us, learn their names, learn something of their ways of living and habits, gaining the knowledge that helps us to appreciate the intricacies of God's creation even more. The more we see and understand life and growth, the more we appreciate the One who made it all. From living things to the highest heavens, all creation reminds us of the wonderful majestic greatness of God. Try as we might, we do not have the capacity to fully comprehend all that God has made let alone understand Him who did the making, but we can appreciate Him. As it has been said, a Christian is someone who sees a sunset (or a star or a living thing) and knows who to thank!
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