The Problem of Living without Awe
- Thursday, January 17, 2013
"Truly God is good to Israel."
I don't think we have categories today that get at what these words are saying.
The words roll off your tongue so easily your mind barely has time to consider their content. The words are so familiar and mundane they barely draw interest out of us, let alone awe.
At breakfast you'll say something like, "Wow, this cereal is good!" Or, "We had a good time at the park." Or, "Let me tell you where to get a good cup of coffee." Or, Sam is really a good husband." So maybe when we read that God is good what is supposed to happen inside of us doesn't happen.
When you read the words, "God is good," your heart should be filled with wonder, amazement, gratitude, humility, and love. Or to capture what our response should be in one word; AWE. Now, this is where the problem lies. I am convinced that many of us live day after day without any awe whatsoever.
We live days, maybe even weeks, without wonder and amazement. We walk through the situations and locations of our daily lives without an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We don't notice the glory display that is all around us that points us to the one glory that is truly glorious; the glory of God. No, we see:
a busy schedule,
bills to be paid,
competitive children who are fighting once again,
the mean neighbor,
the hard boss,
too much traffic,
laundry that is piling up,
the car that needs repair,
the movie we have to see,
the blogs we can't live without,
the cool restaurant we can't wait to visit,
the vacation around the corner,
the relative who is mad once again,
the championship season,
the garage that is too full to house the car anymore,
the problems at church,
the weight we didn't mean to gain,
the dreams that are slipping through our fingers...
For sinners, the road between awe and complaining is very short. You and I were created to live our lives in the shadow of awe. Every word we speak, every action we take, every decision we make, and every desire we entertain was meant to be colored by awe. We were meant to live with eyes gazing upward and outward. We were meant to live with hearts that are searching, and hungry and being satisfied. Bad things happen when human beings lose their sense of awe. Bad things happen when we have no wonder inside of us. Bad things happen when we are no longer amazed. Bad things happen when we look around and nothing impresses us anymore.
When sin takes awe away from you, that sense of divine wonder that is meant to shape every person's life, you look for ways to fill the void. Now think about it, if you are not getting your wonderment vertically, that is, from the Creator, then you will look for it somewhere in the creation. You will be shopping for the buzz of wonder where it simply is not to be found.
Your friends and family cannot give you the awe you seek. That new restaurant will blow you away, but it won't introduce you to the heart satisfying wonder of God. That new car will make you happy for a while, but it has not the capacity whatsoever to fill your soul with glory.
The Psalmist here gets at the dilemma in a single word, "good." You're looking for "good," pure, unadulterated, imperishable, unending, and unfailing good; because you're wired that way. You're looking for the kind of good that can lift you out of your boredom and quiet your longings. And that good is only to be found one place; God. God is good in every possible way.
He is good in righteousness.
He is good in power.
He is good in grace.
He is good in his faithfulness.
He is good in mercy.
He is good in holiness.
He is good in justice.
He is good in his rule.
All his words are good and true.
All his actions are good and right.
When he is angry he is good.
When he preserves life, he is good.
When he takes life he is good.
When his words are hard, they are good.
When his words are gentle, they are good.
His promises are good.
His provisions are good.
His plan is good.
In all of the universe, you can only say this about God; he is good all the time and in every way. Nothing in creation is like him. Everything around us is flawed in some way. And even before the fall, no glory in creation compared to the glory of the Creator.
But sin makes us blind to the glory of God and because we are blind, it causes us to live without awe.
No, it is not too good to be true. There really is a God who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, who is the sum and definition of all that is good, true, and loving. He is not only good, but he places his goodness on us! Not because we deserve it in any way, but simply because he is good, gracious, loving, and kind.
Think about it. The One who is the sum and definition of all that is truly good has placed his goodness on people like you and me.
Now that's a reason for awe.
Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit www.paultripp.com
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