Personal Moments of Awe

This was first published over a year ago (when about a dozen people were following this blog:).  It’s been a particularly busy week or two, so perhaps you’ll enjoy this slightly edited re-post. 

You know an awesome storm is on the way when it’s dark outside at 10 o’clock in the morning.  After the darkness, thunder like the percussion section of the Chicago Symphony, lightning, wind and rain add their special effects to the stormy composition.

A thunderous storm performance is awesome.

Not an “awesome dude” kind of awesome like one might use to describe a good movie or a roller-coaster ride, but like the word’s actual meaning: “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.”

I was similarly awed by the power of ocean waves during a vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I thought I’d try a little body surfing like several others around me were doing.  The water was only waist level, if that.  How difficult could it be?

Let’s just say that I did not ride a wave; the wave rode me. I got tossed, lost a contact lens, and emerged with new respect for the power of even “small” waves.

The waves were awesome.

Other moments of awe are stunning, not because of their power, but because they are so very personal.

During that same beach vacation, a wonderful week with three other families, we were fascinated by jumping stingrays.  Some stingrays, we learned, occasionally jump out of the water and flip back in.  Who knew?

One late afternoon, as we sat in front of the surf, I said, “I’d love to see one of those jumping stingrays!”  And in less than thirty seconds, right in front of us, a stingray jumped.  Twice.

Now, you might say that was a coincidence, but I believe that God, the same powerful God who conducts symphonies in the sky and directs the crashing waves, decided to delight us in a very personal way that day. 

It was awesome.

In the Bible, when God or one of his angels makes an appearance to one of his people, the universal and appropriate reaction is fall-on-your face humility, fear, stunned silence, and reverent awe.  And then God, or his messenger, offers the comforting phrase: “Do not be afraid.”

God’s mighty presence and fearful power are overwhelming, yet his heart is inviting.

C.S. Lewis captured this tension in his portrayal of Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Aslan is being described to Susan and Lucy by Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and Lucy asked, “‘Then he is safe?’  ‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver… ‘Who said anything about safe?  Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good. He’s the King.'”  Later Mr. Beaver says of Aslan, “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t…It’s quite all right.  He’ll often drop in.  Only you musn’t press him.  He’s wild, you know.  Not like a tame lion.”

God is not tame.

God is dangerous, and he is good.

God is fearful, and he is gentle.

God is powerful, and he is tender.

He is awesome.

How do you perceive God? Fearful? Tender? Powerful? Gentle? All of the above and much more?  What are some of your moments of awe?

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About Judy

At heart I am a student of truth, an observer of culture, and a communicator. Jesus is my teacher and my Lord. In pursuit of these passions, I read as much as I can, serve as Teaching Director for a Community Bible Study group, and write a blog in an attempt to synthesize it all. I take great delight in my relationships with family and friends, and I also enjoy long walks, bike rides and cooking. And did I mention that I like to read?
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7 Responses to Personal Moments of Awe

  1. pbus1 says:

    Beautiful post! In response to your question, “all of the above.” I am in awe of Him, every time I experience His manifest presence! May the Lord bless you, abundantly.

    Paulette

  2. Karen says:

    Love this one…cannot read it too often!

  3. Caddo Veil says:

    Hi Judy! It’s hard to imagine there was a time when you only had a dozen followers–I know that sounds silly, as we all started with Zero! (But I think of you as starting off with a crowd!) Anyway, I’m off topic already–yikes! I used to be very afraid of God–not the reverential fear, just plain fear like I had of my parents. Now I know I don’t have to be afraid of Him in that way–I know Him as the Good Father, very loving, gentle but firm when He has to be. It took nearly a lifetime, to get to this point. Mostly, I just know I love Him–because He loves me so much too, and from way back “before”. And I like what Larry said too! God bless you abundantly–have a great week, Judy–love, sis Caddo

  4. Larry Who says:

    If you were to ask my wife how she perceives God, she would say, “Kind, gentle, and loving.”

    My answer would be totally different. I would say, “God is fearful, powerful, awesome, mountain moving, able to rip into my life and tear it to pieces, a loving Father, and yet, He is my best friend.”

    On one of the worst days of my life, I said, “Lord, I’m so lonely. I can hardly take it anymore.”

    A quiet voice spoke to my heart, “Larry, it was lonely at the cross.”

    Maybe a few would say that the Lord spoke roughly to me, but at that moment, my greatest need was knowing He understood where I was at. And He did. He knew all of my anguish and more.

    • Judy says:

      The Lord’s response to you does not sound rough to me at all. You are so right that Jesus knows far more anguish than we’ll ever experience or even comprehend. It seems he has invited you to experience some of it with Him. Bless you Larry.

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