Week of December 30
The Awesome God
When I was in fourth grade, our class visited the planetarium. In a darkened room, we stared upward at the ceiling. Tiny sparks of light twinkled and the objects slowly rotated. "This is the heavens," said the guide's voice. "These are stars and planets millions and millions of miles away."
He went on to explain about light years and the immense vastness of space. I don't know how much I understood, but I did grasp that planet Earth was a tiny place compared to the universe. And if the earth itself was tiny, what did that say about me?
It was an awesome moment. I distinctly remember thinking, I'm not even as big as a mosquito, which was the smallest living creature I could think of. I'm sure I didn't know the word "awe," but that's the feeling that crept over me.
When we try to comprehend the immensity of our world, our galaxy, or even the universe, and realize that God brought all of it into existence with a mere "Let there be …," it fills us with awe.
Yet the Bible assures us that, in the midst of all that vastness God sees each of us individually. What an awesome God. And that God loves me.
When we consider the writings of the church father and Reformers, we realize they understood the majestic God who created and ruled the universe—a concept we seem to have lost. They tiptoed into the presence of the awe-inspiring God; we charge in demanding answers and solutions. Reverence and deep, deep homage permeate their writings; we speak to the Holy One in the most familiar, mundane terms and consider reverence as a carry-over from a boring formalism.
We have difficulty even reading the definition of God in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1643-1647): "There is but one living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working in all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal most just and terrible in just judgments; hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty" (Chapter II, 1).
Why don't we try to recapture the concept of the awesome God envisioned by those godly scholars three centuries ago? They perceived God with a holy reverence that seems lost in our world. They referred to God as the One with absolute knowledge who is "holy in all His counsels." They said that worship, service, and obedience are due to God. Those divines of old Spoke of God's power and reminded us of who it is that commands the elements of nature to obey, who declares the hours of light and darkness, who makes the planets rotate in order, and who brings seedtime and harvest.
It is our awesome God!
Shortly after I began my new way of praying to various facets of God's personhood, I worshiped in a small church. In their informal style, the congregation sang a number of choruses. Two of them contained the line, "Our God is an awesome God." Many raised their hands and closed their eyes in what seemed like genuine worship. Across the aisle from me, an elderly woman stopped singing as tears slid down her cheeks. Yes, maybe they have discovered something of the awesomeness of God, I thought, as I sang.
Ours is the privilege to come into the presence—to invade the privacy—of an awesome God. Yet we moderns face a danger—danger of familiarity. We're no longer like our fourth-grade class at the planetarium when we felt an overpowering awe as we stared into the skies. Now we have space shuttles that fly to the moon or orbit the earth—scientific breakthroughs that tend to lessen our sense of awe. TV satellites, the Hubble telescope, and the discovery of a new planet in early 1996—these make everything feel closer, smaller and less significant. We can't quite reach the most distant star with today's technology, but we know it's only a matter of time until we do. As our awe over the universe increases, sadly, our awe of God declines.
We need to recapture that sense of wonder and majesty about God that is so lost to our world. How do we do that? One way is to consider all that the powerful Creator of the world has brought into being for us.
As I write this, spring has returned to the land with a lushness that seemed impossible in November. In my yard, red tulips bloom and squirrels race up and down the trees As I look outside my window at the first hints of the flowering dogwoods, I begin to sing:
This is my Father's world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker's praise
This is my Father's world:
He shines in all that's fair;
In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.
MALTBIE D. BABCOCK, 1901
Yes, our God is an awesome God who invites us into the divine presence.
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. GENESIS 1:24, NIV
how do I begin to comprehend your majestic power?
How do I take in the world you brought into being
and continue to sustain?
How do I grasp that you've created everything
from earthworms to water-laden skies
to bring harmony to this planet?
It's beyond my comprehension.
The best I can do is to stare at your created world,
remember that it's your footstool,
and whisper in hushed tones,
"Thank you, Awesome God,
for the vastness of this world,
and for your love for the human race
that prompted its creation." Amen.
For more from Cec, please visit www.cecilmurphey.com.
Cecil Murphey has written more than one hundred books on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, Caregiving, and Heaven. He enjoys preaching in churches and speaking and teaching at conferences around the world. To book Cec for your next event, please contact Twila Belk at 563-332-1622.