Last week the winds cleared away the smog and clouds from the sky. As I looked to the mountains, my breath was literally taken away. Although I have looked at these mountains many times, I never really saw what now was obvious to me: the clear definitions of the canyons, ridges, and vegetation. The green of the highlands had magnificent hues and shades. As you looked up, the green melted into the purple of the rock, which vanished into the white of the snow cap. I paused and gave thanks to the Creator for the glory of such a sight that gave me a sense of “wonder.”
I’ve been stopping myself more often to gaze at the mountains or a flower or a small child or the bustle of a busy restaurant because there is a lot of “wonder” to be found. I was saddened to think how I go through life so fast and furious that I miss the many wonder-full things that happen constantly around me.
At the center of worship is a sense of “wonder.” Wonder is what makes worship of God fabulous, deep, rich. Without a sense of “wonder”, worship becomes a chore, an obligation, something to check off your “to-do” list. Without “wonder”, worship deteriorates into “religion” (ugh!) Unfortunately, our churches are filled with “wonder-less worship” and “wonder-less” worshipers. Perhaps you can relate.
Everyone knows what “wonder” is. God brings it into everyone’s life at one time or another. The other evening I had our worship team share a time in their lives when they were filled with wonder. They had no difficulty in recalling such times: the birth of a child, the sense of the Spirit-leading, a mountain-top experience at camp. These are times of great clarity; we see things as they should be – and we are in awe. Unfortunately, these times are far and few between. We wonder (no pun intended) why God doesn’t zap us with more of these experiences.
I believe that God is wonderful all the time! The reason why we don’t “see” it is because we don’t seek it. Sometimes God has to literally hit us over the head with an epiphany or revelation (usually accompanied by some traumatic event – positive or negative) before we experience the “wonder.”
It’s amazing what lengths God goes through in order for His wonder-fullness to break through our hard hearts and distracted minds!
Remember, Jacob in Genesis? He had to run for his life (fleeing from his brother Esau) before God had his undivided attention in the wilderness. It was there that the Lord gave him the vision of the “Stairway to Heaven”. Finally, Jacob was in awe and worshiped: “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place … and I never knew it!” (Genesis 28:16).
God’s presence was there all the time, it’s just that Jacob wasn’t aware of it until God had his attention. The lesson for us is that Instead of waiting for wonder to come us, God wants us to find it. I call this the discipline of “wonder-ment”. It is the attitude and mindset of discovering the wonder of God throughout our day and our experiences. God is there, the question is: are we looking for Him?
This discipline begins with two things that totally go against the grain of our busy culture: slowing and pausing. You’ve heard the expression: Slow down and smell the roses? That is the first step to wonder-ment. Slow down and look at the mountains. Stop at a park and breathe some fresh air. Pause at a busy mall and look at the people. Then, turn your attention to God: give Him praise for the scene of glory, lift up intercession for the lonely, busy people you see, laugh with Him as you watch children at play.
As you do this, don’t be surprised if God transports you into a sense of “wonder-ness”! Wonder is a not only huge portal for worship; it is an enormous portal for life itself. It elevates us past the mundane into the holy. But it begins by seeing the holy in the mundane, the everyday, and the ordinary.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie “Hook” is when one of the smallest of the Lost Boys (in Neverland) uses his hands to contort the face of Peter Bannister (who was once Peter Pan, but forgot who he was and ended up as a … corporate lawyer). After manipulating Bannister’s face to different expressions, the Boy lands on one and exclaims: “There you are, Peter. I knew you were in there!” And that was the beginning of Peter’s return to being who he really was, the Pan.
When we slow down and pause in the discipline of wonder-ment, we start to see the face of Jesus in everything. That is the beginning of wonder-filled worship, and the return of ourselves to who we really are: beloved children of the Most Wonderful God.