Let AWE INSPIRE YOU
Updated: Feb 22, 2019
Just this morning I read an article by Sarah DiGiulo of NBC news reporting that psychologists say the emotion of awe plays a big role in our health, happiness and well being. As I read this article it resonated strongly because what scientists and social researchers are now discovering has been proclaimed by the Bible for thousands of years.
Philippians 4:19-20 proclaim, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
2 Corinthians 4:15 state, "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."
If you haven't made the connection, I equate recognizing the glory of God with this emotion of awe the article speaks of. To me, it is obvious that when we recognize the glory of God and can come to see the glory and magnificence of God, we thus then come to experience great awe.
The article claims that people who learn to appreciate awe come to terms with the vastness of reality around them and in turn they learn to appreciate humility. The article states that Jennifer Stellar, PhD claims, "People feeling awe focus more of their attention outward and value others more in social interactions... (Stellar has also studied the effect of awe on the body's immune system.)"
She goes on further to state that, "one important distinction between awe and other emotions (like inspiration or surprise) is that awe makes us feel small - or feel a sense of 'self-diminished' in science speak. And that's good for us, Stellar explains."
Theologically, this is the same effect of what we refer to when we recognize the Glory of God.
In comprehending the awe of God we are "self-diminished." Not that we are humiliated or insignificant but we come to terms with the greatness around us. In theological terms we speak of God's grace and mercy, and we wonder why would a vast God care for such a small creature as us?
So when we learn to embrace God's glory, the power and essence of how great God is, we then come to a place where we learn to appreciate and respect God. We fear, respect but also admire and are thus amazed by Him.
How do we get to that place of awe? The Bible says, be still and know that I am God. It is about believing what the Bible claims about God. If nature can spark this sense of awe simply via observation, how much more can we be drawn to awe when we recognize the Creator.
One of the practices of society since the onset of time has been to be greatly impressed with our own creations. In such, we take our eyes off of nature and the vastness around us to see the great things we have made. In turn, we develop a sense of idolatry in that we place great value and power to our creations even though they are never quite to the standards of the great works of God.
For example, in 1987 I served as the chaplain on the USS TRIPOLI (LPH-10) a US Navy assault ship that carried US Marines and aircraft into combat. We were over 18 stories high, 300' long by 100’ wide and by the pier we looked menacing and outright amazing. We dwarfed cars, buildings and other man made creations around us. However, that summer we embarked on a trans-oceanic cruise and the vastness of the Pacific Ocean made us feel so small and vulnerable. This was heightened whenever we faced the ire of the ocean during storms. This realization or awe for the ocean granted us a great respect for the ocean.
The same occurs when we realize that while we are talented, valuable and special in the face of God indeed we are pretty small. This shouldn't make us feel insignificant but instead it should help us to learn to appreciate God and the love God expresses for us.
Living in awe, appreciating the greatness of life, the vastness of creation, the boundless love of God will help us to realize how great God is and how special we are to God. This helps us live in the reality of God's glory, it helps us to be appreciative, it draws us to God and it helps us to be grateful. It is in the presence of God's glory where we learn to live a happy life granted to us by our Great God.
This sense of perspective grants us a new sense of purpose, contentment and reality. It draws us near to God and teaches us to be well in our reality. It grants us peace to know we are in the hands of such greatness and erases the sadness and disappointment that comes when we think we are great, in control and with power only to discover it’s nothing but a myth. Such an illusion brings forth discontent, anxiety and fear. Instead, learn to appreciate that you are surrounded by the glory of God and the God of such glory loves you.
So, Live long and prosper in awe!