Amazing grace…how sweet the sound! How great Thou art! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…There's just something about that Name! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! These are all lyrics to a few old hymns of the church. Their words convey a certain wonder and adoration of the greatness of God. This kind of wide-eyed, jaw-dropping amazement should certainly promote a hopeful outlook on life.
Today we have numerous ways to experience God's goodness. We can watch and listen to Bible teachings on TV, radio and the Internet…find encouragement in social media…listen to uplifting music…read inspiring books…the list is almost endless. Sadly, it still seems that a lot of our reverence for God is gone from the Church at large.
Even with all the ways the Word is available to us, it seems as though we have lost some of the respect we once had, and familiarity may be the culprit. Now, it's not that familiarity is a bad thing necessarily, but when something-or someone-becomes common or ordinary to us, we begin to take it for granted and it is no longer special. I believe that is what has happened.
Born Again, Not Bored Again
If we can't find anything else to be amazed about, we can at least rejoice that we will live for eternity! But in the meantime, there is much more to inspire our wide-eyed wonder; all we have to do is simply pay attention.
Think back to a time shortly after you were born again. How did you feel? Were you extremely happy? Were you amazed by the presence of God…His grace…His love for you? How did you express your love and gratitude to Him? Did you laugh, cry or dance before Him? Did you shout praises to Him or maybe bow in silent reverence? Whatever you did was your expression of the value, or importance, of your new and growing relationship with God.
It was the same for the Children of Israel. The Ark of the Covenant was extremely important to the Israelites because it contained the presence of God. It was holy and revered. It was special…so special it could not be touched by human hands. They inserted poles through rings on its sides in order to carry the Ark because no one could touch it. The presence of God was sacred to them. The Ark went before them everywhere they went. They followed it-followed God-into battle…and when they did, they won every conflict.
But when Israel began to get too familiar…to take the presence of God for granted…their enemies began defeating them in battle. The Philistines actually took the Ark away from them. They lost the presence…the glory of God! And even when they eventually got the Ark back, some of them treated it disrespectfully by touching it and as a result, many of them fell over dead. (See 1 Samuel 4-6.)
It might seem that much of the glory of God is gone from the Church today. And maybe it's for the very same reason…because we have lost our reverential fear and awe of God. But all hope is not lost. I think we could also say that the more amazed we are by the presence of God, the more of His glory we will see in our lives. The apostle Paul told Timothy to stir himself up (see 2 Timothy 1:6), and I think we should take the same advice.
Stir It Up
It's like a jar of salad dressing sitting on a shelf…most of the seasoning settles to the bottom of the bottle. But when you shake that bottle up, all the ingredients mix together and then the dressing can add flavor to a salad. In the same way, we can stir ourselves up and regain the reverence, respect and awe we once had for the Lord. Shake up those memories of what God has done for you. Begin to do what you did when you were first filled with God's presence, His grace and love. Learn to maintain that amazement, because the more amazed you are…the more hopeful, joyful and peaceful you'll be…and the more "flavor" you'll add to this world.
There are several ways we can stir ourselves up. Just stop and think for a moment. Begin to reminisce about the goodness of God in your life. Remember things He's done for you. Consider some of the bad situations He has protected you from…like perhaps a bad accident you missed because you locked your keys in the car and ran late for work. Things like this are not necessarily coincidences, and we will be able to see the hand of God at work in them if we simply pay attention.
Keep a journal to record your prayer needs and then the answers and breakthroughs, or a gratitude notebook to just write down things you are thankful for. Share with others what God is doing in your life! It doesn't matter whether they're big or small things; remembrance is vital to maintaining hope, and these things can help remind you.
When you focus on how wonderful God is and all the great things He's done…is doing…and even will do in your life, your natural response will be praise, adoration and awe. Don't let yourself ever get used to it…stay amazed!