Awesome! I’ve heard that word used a lot – for a lot of different things. This cheesecake is awesome. That football game was awesome. You are an awesome wife. When we use that word, it’s because we think something is exceptional. But the actual definition of the word “awesome” gives us a deeper meaning. Here’s what the dictionary says: exhibiting or marked by awe; showing reverence, admiration, or fear. Another definition I found for AWE is a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.
For me, AWE is a word that applies to God and to those things that point us to God – that lift our hearts and minds to God. When I think about God, there is an emotion that I can’t articulate except to say AWE. And that little word doesn’t come close to describing what I feel. It’s just the best of a bunch of inadequate words because we don’t have words that do God justice. So we use the best words we have. Awesome! Awe in God. Reverence and fear and admiration all mixed together.
Why awe? How do we experience that awe? I’ll tell you about my experiences. You might relate to some and others not so much. Each of us is unique, and God touches us each differently. So here’s my list of seven ways I have been awed by God.
1. Reading the Bible. When I was in high school I read the Bible all the way through from cover to cover. It was quite an accomplishment (I thought), but I didn’t experience awe in the reading. I was just reading a bunch of stories. It wasn’t clicking. Many years later, after receiving an anointing of the Holy Spirit, Scripture came alive. I would read something in the Old Testament and see how it connected to something in the New Testament. I would read one of Paul’s letters and it would speak to a very specific situation in my life. The Bible became personal. I now know it is a love letter – a love letter to me and a love letter to you. And that fills me with awe. How could God make something that was written thousands of years ago still relevant today? How can I possibly relate to something written in such a different time and place and culture? It’s crazy. But it’s true. And that is awesome!
2. Reading the prophecies of the Messiah. They were all fulfilled in Jesus. Every single one of the prophecies was fulfilled. It’s interesting that the disciples on the road to Emmaus on the very first Easter Sunday are walking with Jesus away from Jerusalem, very dejected because the Messiah had died. They don’t realize they are walking with Jesus, and he starts telling them about how the Messiah had to die to fulfill the prophecies. The Bible tells us that he opened the Scriptures to them and their hearts were burning inside. That’s awe. That’s what I feel when I finally understand something in Scripture. Reading about the prophecies gives me more confidence in my faith. It’s not just a bunch of coincidences. It was all planned from the beginning. How can I not be in awe of God’s perfect plan!
3. How God works in peoples' lives. I know addicts who have been transformed. I know people who have suffered great tragedies who have found healing and peace. I know people who are so open to God’s voice that they speak the Truth with great love. I know people who have been in dangerous, life-threatening situations and kept calm because of their faith. And I know people who died with so much joy as they prepared to meet Jesus. These personal experiences of God working in those I know fill me with awe.
4. Seeing beauty. I live in the mountains of North Georgia and it’s so beautiful - God's creation. I am in awe of great music like Gregorian Chant and Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. God gifted those people to create something so amazing. Great beauty draws me to God because God is the source of all that is beautiful. There is beauty in a flower, and the face of a child or an old woman, in a desert and a rain forest. All of God’s creation is beautiful. It should fill us with awe for the Divine Creator. Sometimes we just need to sit and bask in all this beauty.
5. When God uses me. Sometimes in spiritual direction I say something that is so wise that I know it’s not from me. It cannot be because I am just not that smart. When I began training I was really wondering if I would be able to listen to God while also listening to the person talking. It’s not like I hear God’s voice saying, “Okay Colleen. Here’s what you need to say.” Many times in the learning process I was not sure I could do it. And in fact I could not do it. I had to let God do it. And God gives me perspective when I am meeting with someone so that I can see what they might be missing or encourage them or remind them of God’s love. When that happens, when I stop trying to control and plan, when I get out of the way, I make room for God. That’s amazing. I am in awe of what God can do when I get out of the way.
6. God’s miracles. There are so many. The Bible is full of them, of course. And these miracles really happened. Never deny the miracles of God. Jesus really did heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise people from the dead. And so did his disciples. And the miracles continue today. Have you heard of Fatima? This is a city in Portugal that had what’s called the Miracle of the Sun in 1917. The Blessed Virgin Mary had been appearing to 3 children once a month. Word got out and more and more people came to see if it was true. On October 13 there was a crowd of 30,000 people who came to the site of the apparition. Many of them were skeptics wanting to prove it was a fake. There were newspapers and photos taken and when Mary appeared, there was a miracle with the sun seen by all present. Look it up and read the story. Watch the movie with Harvey Keitel and Sonja Braga. It’s a miracle. There is also the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, where the proof of the miracle that happened 500 years ago is still there for all to see. These are the big miracles, but there are small miracles every day. An unexpected financial gift at just the right moment. A healing that came after prayer. A phone call from an old friend at a moment of great despair. And of course the miracle of the birth of a child. I am in awe of both God’s extraordinary and his everyday miracles!
7. The mercy of God. How is it that we have a God so great that he forgives our sins? All we have to do is repent, confess our sins, and change our ways. No matter what we have done, he wants to forgive us. He wants to show his mercy. What did he say on the cross? "Father forgive them!" He’s talking about us – you and me. At the moment of the greatest pain he would know, he asked the Father to forgive us. I have done some pretty awful things in my life – broken lots of the commandments, and God is there to welcome me back home like the prodigal daughter I am. He watches for me and comes out to greet me. Throws a banquet for me because I was lost and now I am found. There is more joy in heaven when one sinner repents. I must have been the source of a bunch of joy in heaven! How awesome is that!
I could go on with more ways that I am in awe of this great God of ours. The fact that I recognize how awesome he is is a gift in itself. So I encourage you to spend some time today in awe of God. What is it that gives you that sense of awe – reverence – fear – and wonder? Maybe some of the things I mentioned struck a chord with you. But there’s so much more. So take that into your prayer time. Spend time in prayers of thanksgiving and praise for the awesome God we serve!
Questions to ponder:
1. When did I feel in awe of God today? Praise God for that!
2. Is there anything that blocks my ability to recognize the awesomeness of God? How can I overcome that obstacle?