By Tammy Darling
A crackling campfire with flames reaching for the stars stirs up thoughts of a God who led the Israelites by fire at night. I am reminded that the fire would have provided benefits similar to a physical fire—light to see, warmth, and protection from wild animals.
Photographing a myriad of clouds on a beautiful summer day makes me wonder what God’s cloud by day in Exodus 13 looked like. A large, strong hand guiding, perhaps? Or maybe the cloud resembled a cross, a foreshadowing of the deliverance to come.
This daily pondering of the intricacies of creation causes me to laugh and weep simultaneously. My heart overflows with thanksgiving. My lips seek words to describe such a God, but my lips often remain silent as the cry of my heart takes over, expressing what I cannot.
Wonder leads to worship. How can it not? Beauty fills our lives even in the vortex of pain and suffering. A child in a casket; a child in the arms of Christ. A dying mother; memories that never fade.
The faithfulness of our God cannot be denied. He is always faithful, always good. When heartache hits like a hurricane, these truths enable us to worship God in spite of the howling wind and lashing rain.
Wonder keeps us looking up, away from ourselves, away from the entrapments of the world to the God who created our very hearts—hearts that long for and thirst for his glorious presence.
As dreams and adventure give way to careers and busyness, wonder is the casualty. We are injured but don’t know how or why. We struggle to praise on those days when we haven’t all but won the lottery.
Whether we realize it or not, we miss our sense of wonder. More than we know. Like the lazy days of summer gone by, we long for one more lap around the pool, one more fresh flower bouquet to grace our table at mealtime.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. We would all stay up to gaze in wonderment, of course. But the fact that the stars do come out every night doesn’t make them any less spectacular. Instead of gazing at the stars in apt wonder, we watch television.
“Become like a little child,” said Christ (Matthew 18:3). In the eyes of a child, beauty is rampant, mystery is just around the corner, and wonder is a never-ending playground.
For a child a caterpillar on a leaf, a puddle in the driveway, or the moon in the night sky evokes a sense of wonder that, for many of us, has long since passed. Though we aspire to worship with abandon, we wonder why we can’t.
When the wonder is gone, the backyard that holds a day’s worth of adventure for a child is nothing more than a lawn to be mowed for us. The tragedy of lost wonder is worship that diminishes like the evening sun. And it’s a slow fade, one we seldom notice until the warmth of the day leaves us chilled and in the dark.
We become so focused on the problems of life that seem to have no end that we consequently miss out on the nearness of God in the moment. When we seek the why we often miss the who. God weaves eternal truths and glimpses of his glory throughout our days, but too often we pass by them unaware and overlook the razzle-dazzle of our days.
The well of wonder never runs dry though. G. K. Chesterton wrote, “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” Do you want to wonder? Do you want to worship? The two are indubitably linked, you know.
Whether Nicolaus Copernicus or Sir Isaac Newton, their drive to comprehend the world around them was fueled by a desire to learn more about God himself. Can we say the same? Do we seek to understand the world we live in as a means to draw closer to God? When we do, worship won’t be far behind.
Wonder is not just an attribute, like calling a lilac purple, but an undergirding attitude, a compass pointing toward God. Wonder, rightly understood, always directs us to the God of all creation.
Many times I have been driven to my knees with an intense desire to know God more. Inevitably I am compelled to head for the great outdoors. Could it be that this longing for creation stems from an underlying thirst to know God, the Creator of it all? I believe so.
Beauty is all around us. Sometimes it’s impossible to ignore, but more often beauty requires an intentionality that only a sense of wonder can unearth.
Beauty serves as an announcement to the world that God alone reigns over the entire universe. The artist of the majestic dawn is also author of the lightning in the vast open sky. The God who creates such splendor wants us to celebrate it at every turn.
We are attracted to beauty and have an innate instinct for it. We recognize beauty when we see it, but how often are we looking for the beauty of our God whom we cannot see? Like my daughter at the dentist office, digging through a treasure chest of trinkets, I want to live each day eagerly seeking the treasure of my God, just waiting to be discovered.
Increasingly I am learning to appreciate the beauty of our world and acknowledge God’s artistry in the process. Beyond mere aesthetics, beauty directs us to the God whose abiding presence and character pours forth from every rock, every tree, every ant. All of creation is an invitation to worship the God of the universe.
We don’t have to be distant admirers of God’s character. We can become reflections of it as we bring beauty into a broken world through our worship of the one true God.
It is wonder that equipped Isaiah to follow God’s call. Awestruck, Isaiah committed to being used by God, no matter the cost. When we catch a glimpse of the God whom Isaiah saw, we too will respond with total abandon.
Creation does not serve its purpose if we admire the flickering night sky only to return to our darkened homes and lives. By dipping into the well of wonder, we can live our daily lives with a delicate balance of trembling awe and childlike amazement, leading us into an eternity of worship. Draw from the well of wonder and drink in the God who is beyond description.
Tammy Darling is a freelance writer in Three Springs, Pennsylvania.
10 ways to dip into the well of wonder:
• Ask the Lord to expand your capacity to see and savor the divine gifts all around you.
• Use your senses to their full potential—pay attention to details, texture, colors, etc.
• Do something that makes you feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
• Embrace silence.
• Look at the lights in the night sky—really look at them.
• Thank God for his faithfulness in your life.
• Revel in the gifts of life, time, and beauty.
• Invite God to speak to you.
• Be fully present in the moment.
• Live in divine expectation.