by Steve Sandberg
Awe (noun) – a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder
Every one of us can think on something that was so wonderful that all we could do for a time was to just stand there in awe.
As part of the track team in high school, me and my other teammates would play soccer in the off season to stay in shape. I had the extremely boring position of goalie. Having just started dating my wife, I would stand in my spot as goalie during the practices and just think of her. I could not get that beautiful girl off of my mind; I was in awe! I would think of her eyes, her smile, her hair. Once I was so distracted by the thought of my girlfriend, I was not even paying attention as the other team came down the field and tried to score. One moment I was thinking about a beautiful girl, and the next moment I was seeing stars because the soccer ball hit me in the face!
When I was called to preach at the age of 33, my family and I moved from the dry, brown desert of Southern California to the Midwest for a brief time while I attended Bible college. Having been born and raised in the West, I was not prepared for the awesome beauty of the changing leaves and foliage of autumn in the Midwest! The dazzling colors changed almost daily, and every morning was like a whole new show! As I walked out my front door every morning during that first autumn, my breath would catch at the sight, and I would stand there in awe.
In 1997, my wife and I took a trip of a lifetime to the country of Israel. What an exciting trip that was, seeing all of the places we read of in the Bible and picturing the Bible characters in these very real places! One place that stood out was the Garden Tomb where Jesus had been buried and from where He had risen. There are no words to describe standing in that place where Jesus fulfilled one of the greatest promises of the Bible! I stood staring at the place where Jesus had lain, and I was filled with awe.
All of these places and experiences leave the viewer awestruck because these things cannot be experienced every day. They are unique and special for us to see, enjoy, and experience. We WANT to stop and stare at the rare, amazing, and beautiful things that can take our breath away. On any road trip that twists up a mountain road, the vacationers will pass or even stop at a breathtaking, scenic turnout. Many will just pull their cars over to stare at the vista. Some will get out of the car with cameras to take photo after photo of the horizon.
Consequently, we can grow accustomed to that thing or place that left us speechless and forget to be amazed. The awesome things can become no big deal. We grow desensitized to the wonder we once felt and become so accustomed to these moments, experiences, and places so that they slowly grow to be mundane, boring, and dull.
Many years ago my wife and I were driving down Highway 1, along the beautiful Pacific coast. We stopped at a gas station and while fueling up, a young couple pulled up and asked the gas station employee, “What is there to do around here? What is there to see?” The employee replied, “Most people come here to look at the scenery,” and he gestured to the beautiful view of the ocean. The couple responded, “Oh, we already did that! Is there anything else to do here?” They were no longer in awe of the breathtaking view.
Years ago, as a high school student, I was amazed by the Ford Pinto! Most readers may not even know what a Ford Pinto was, but back then, it was the coolest car a guy could have. Now, many decades later, no one would be amazed by that old car at all!
At one time our grandparents were so impressed with some product that they HAD to buy it. As they grew older, they proudly passed it on to our parents. Our parents eventually had no need for it and put it in a yard sale. Now we look at it in an antique store and just have to buy that thing because it is so amazing!
There was a day when we all walked into the church, excited by the newness of the things of God. Time went by and the excitement began wearing off. We eventually grew used to the whole thing and started thinking church was not that big of a deal anymore.
I have counseled married couples who are struggling in their marriages. I am always amazed at how two people who loved each other so much that they gave their lives to each other at a wedding altar can be so angry and bitter toward one another. Somewhere along the way they lost the awe of the love they had together.
If we are not careful, we can lose that awe in our lives for God.
Psalms 4:4 says, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”
The word “commune” means to meditate. It is a deliberate stopping to consider and think on something. To keep our awe, we must think on what we have. We need to stop at that “scenic turnout” in life and just stand in awe.
We need to stand in awe of our God.
We need to think on how great God is! Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” Every earthquake, tornado, hurricane, cancer case, and even cough ought to remind us that God is in charge! We do not have control, but He does!
Verse 9 says that He commanded and it was done. The creation of the world was spoken into existence by His words. We go to the zoo and marvel at the animals that God made. We go to the museum and see the bones of the dinosaurs that God put on the earth. He gave us the massive redwood trees in California and the crashing glaciers in Alaska. The heavens above are filled with God’s wondrous works that are so amazing that we cannot even see it all with the most powerful telescope. God created it all and we can do nothing but stand in awe!
We need to stand in awe of God’s Word.
Psalm 119:160-162 says, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word. I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.” The Word of God is a great gift over which we can stand in awe. Many evil men throughout history have tried to destroy the Word of God. Thousands of years have gone by and the greatness of the Word of God has outlasted them all! It is an ancient Book that has stood the test of time and still lives on!
In a museum in Chicago, in an exhibit protected under glass, is a few rocks and some dirt. The sign declares it to be “Moon Dust.” It is so precious that no one can get near it, touch it, or hold it. However, the Word of God is more holy and precious than that moon dust! It came from Heaven to earth, as the very words from a holy God. Just being able to hold the Bible and read it should leave us in awe!
We need to stand in awe of serving God.
Luke 2:49 says, “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Jesus came to earth to die for our sins, but He did much work before the crucifixion and resurrection. He performed many miracles and taught the people, including His disciples, preparing them for the day when He would be gone back to Heaven.
John 20:21 says, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” When Jesus left earth, He gave us His work to do. We got His job of spreading the Gospel and ministering to others. We should stand in awe of the job God has given us to do!
Dr. Jack Hyles’ sister, Earlyne Stephens, was a church secretary for decades. She loved the work of God. She said, “God’s business is the most important business in the whole world.”
Every job in the church is important and necessary! Whether it is the nursery worker, the person who takes out the trash, or the Sunday School teacher, each job is needed. Every person in the work of God should stand in awe of getting to serve the Lord, no matter if the task seems great or small. Every task given by God to us is big to our big God!
We need to stand in awe of God’s anointed.
We do not stand in awe of those who God has put into leadership BECAUSE of the person. We should stand in awe because God chose the leadership. In our country today, there is an entire generation void of respect for God-given leaders, and as a result we are seeing a horribly divided country fighting within itself.
The Bible has much to say on those who stand in direct opposition to the man of God. It never ends well for that person who opposes that authority. Think of Elijah calling the fire down from Heaven or of the children who said to him, “Go up, thou baldy.” Think of the fate of Ananias and Sapphira when they lied to the man of God.
We need to stand in awe of our salvation.
Most people think that the space shuttle flies to the moon and back, but this is not true. The space shuttle was designed as a low-orbit vehicle, meaning it flies about 300 miles above the earth’s surface. The moon is 238,900 miles away from earth. We may be in awe of that space shuttle, or even the rockets that will go to the moon; but because of my salvation, when I die I will pass even all those and go somewhere just beyond the blue!
He chose us to go to Heaven to spend eternity with Him! We, because we are saved, will take the trip of a lifetime and go to Heaven because God made a way for us to go there. Those of us who are saved have a paid ticket that will never expire. We do not have to worry about transportation, baggage allowances, or fitting in the seat! We can stand in awe that God allowed us to be saved!
The first half of Revelation 22 talks all about how amazing Heaven will be! We think we have seen some impressive mansions on earth; they will not even compare to the mansions of Heaven! John, who wrote the book of Revelation, got to glimpse the wonder of Heaven; that is the Heaven where we will be one day, too!
When the hymn writer wrote My Saviour’s Love, he described the wonder and the awe of a person who is saved: “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus, the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean. How marvelous, how wonderful! And my song shall ever be; How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!”
More than forty years ago, the hospital required my wife and I to take special classes so that I could be in the delivery room when my first child was born. I listened and studied and knew just what to do to help my wife through delivery. However, when the time came, I did nothing but stand there in awe as my son was born. I was dumbstruck by the wonder of watching the miracle of a life coming into the world.
However, the second birth is even more amazing! The birth into God’s family means a soul is saved and eternal life is won! Let us never lose the awe of being saved by grace through faith and gaining eternal life.