gospel spiritual

We've Lost Our Sense of Wonder

11:26 AMHeather

We live in a shock-and-awe culture. We live in an era of extravagant displays of technology and status and wealth that is unparalleled to past generations. For instance, Yes Magazine says that "According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a new single-family American residence in 1950 was 983 square feet. Today, it is nearly 2500 square feet." 

Oh, yes, we want all things that are bigger, better, flashier and with more bling and technology than our grandparents could have imagined. Cutting edge. Not just keeping up with Joneses, but better than the Joneses. And boy, do we know what the Joneses are up to, thanks to social media.

But, there is a danger lurking.

There is trouble brewing. 

We are like a destitute beggar who suddenly comes into money. Over time, the decadent days of grandeur and prosperity begin to dull the sense of appreciation. The more time that passes enjoying excess, the less aware the beggar becomes of humble beginnings. The luxury and the "more" begins to both desensitize a sense of gratitude as well as create a demanding entitlement. 

This is us. And not just as it relates to our financial status and everyday life, but also to our faith. Particularly, in regards to our reaction to the gospel.

I know of what I speak. Because this is exactly what has happened to me. This is exactly what I am becoming ever more aware of as the blinders are being removed.

I'm a church girl raised in the pretty pews. And over time, I began to lose my sense of wonder. In fact, I now question how much I ever had a sense of wonder? Did I ever fully appreciate the mind blowing truths of the gospel? Before this Great Awakening to grace, did I ever really see myself as the destitute beggar?

Or have I always been desensitized to the profound shock and awe of the gospel story? 

Perhaps I never before had a true appreciation and gratitude for the undeserving excess of mercy that was secured for me on the cross.

This is a pitfall, indeed, for those like me who have no startling salvation story. Whose "testimony" goes something like this: I was raised in a Christian home. I asked Jesus "into my heart" at a young age. I've been a Christian all my life. The end.

Behind such a "lackluster" story comes a temptation to disregard the miracle of grace. There's an insidious pitfall to give ourselves credit in the from of self-righteousness, as if we played some part in the glorious outcome of the gospel. We, like the one who was once a pauper, look around at the riches we enjoy and somehow believe the deceit that we've earned it. Our senses are dulled as we look back and think more highly of our former status, as if we weren't really that bad off to begin with. 

We elevate our own offerings and pursue our own demands and rights. We make our own plans and dream up our own futures, and then warp our status before a Holy God by inviting him into our own ideas and asking him to bless them.

In so doing, we think much of ourselves and little of Him. We dare to steal his glory, seeking man's approval and our own status, perhaps with a twinge of guilt. Yet far from a sense of wonder at his glory and holiness that is actually so profound and so awe-inspiring that Scripture tells us that man can not fully see it and live. In our self-elevating desensitization to the wonder of the gospel, we chase our own agendas, with a nod to Christ mixed somewhere in there. 

We live our good little Christian lives believing the absolute lie that we bring something of value to the table. We walk the halls of our homes daring to believe that we've somehow earned them. We drive the cars we think we are due. We shop for clothes and furniture and things, paying with "our" money and enjoying the comforts of the lives we think we have built. We enter the church's doors on Sundays with broad smiles and a sense of pride at our accomplishments of the week and the good people we think ourselves to be.

All because we have lost our sense of wonder at the gospel. We've boxed Jesus into our pretty little frames and we stop to glance his direction with a nod or a praise song designed to evoke an emotional response. So that we feel good. We wait in eager anticipation for great displays of God's greatness and extravagant blessings poured upon us.

We forget. We have not laid hold of the truest things about who God is and what the gospel story actually tells us about ourselves.

We are the pauper. We are the dirty, shameful, homeless, sinful, wretched beggar. Who has thrown it all away and has not a penny to our name. We are rightfully cast out of the presence of a God so very holy that none should dare to seek an audience with him. We are nothing. We have nothing. We bring nothing. We are owed nothing. We are the worst of the worst. We are filled with a sin nature that continually mocks the Holy One by daring to place our sinful selves before him. 

He sits on the throne. In the glorious heavens. All that is was created by him, with the sound of his voice. He is without fault. Perfect. Set apart from all of the creation that is actually his. He knows the stars by name. He tells the tides where to stop. He commands the winds and the waves. He knows the farthest reaches of the cosmos and holds all of it in his hands. 

And we are the sinful, prideful, undeserving created beings. 

Although we have no merit, no value, nothing to offer, he is the loving father who watches for the rebellious son's return. He is the Holy One who hikes up his robes to run to us, welcoming us with a grace that we could never ever earn, no matter how "good" we are. We are in his debt and at his mercy.

And the good news is, that while we are the prodigal sons who day after day throw away our inheritance in sinful living, he still waits for us. He still welcomes us. He still kills the fattened calf and celebrates that we have come home. He pours out love upon love. Grace upon grace. Mercy unending. Loving kindness undeserved. 

He bought us back. He paid the highest price by offering his only beloved son to die the death that we deserved. To be killed in our place. To make a way.

We bring nothing.

He gave everything.

He made his son his own enemy so that we, who are actually enemies of God, could be made his sons.

That great exchange is the absolute wonder and miracle of the gospel story. And if it does not stir gratitude and humility within your heart, then you have indeed lost your sense of wonder about the cross.

If you are giving yourself any credit for any blessing in your life. If you are making any demand of God. If you are waiting for some great big pay-off to be poured out from heaven because you think you've earned it... then you have lost your sense of wonder. 

If you cannot still yourself in a humble and prostrate position of your heart before a righteous, holy God, then you are missing it. 

You are missing the freedom of releasing yourself from any hope of earning or striving to be deserving of the gift. It's a freedom to embrace how hopeless and wretched you actually are and it allows you the ability to live in speechless astonishment that you can dare to approach the throne of grace. It's a freedom that celebrates that you've been invited in. It's a freedom to revere your place at the banquet table of the Lamb. It's a freedom that is ever aware that not only has he secured this eternal inheritance, but that the Lord God Almighty knows your name and will speak with you and be involved in directing your life.

Oh, that we would look to Elijah. Who dared to stand on the mountain and declare his own accomplishments... "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty!" (1 Kings 19:10). Is that not our posture toward the gospel? We proclaim what we have done and what we are owed. And we wait for big displays of God's power that fit our own need for shock and awe.

We think we know what God looks like and we think we can handle his presence. We look for him in the great and powerful wind. We look for him to shake the ground around us. We wait for big explosive fires and flames of grandeur in our lives.

But God is in the gentle and quiet whispers. God is in the songs of the birds in the morning, sent to remind you that he gave you another day and he sings over you with love. God is in the gorgeous sunsets that declare his glory as he parts the curtains of the heavens to give us the tiniest peek into the unfathomable.

God is in the hugs of the children and the sloppy kisses of the toddlers. God is in the embrace of a loved one when bad news comes. God is in the rhythm of each day, telling the sun to rise and to set as he keeps the earth spinning. God is the tiniest, smallest aspects of each day that are a miraculous display of his greatness.

And we miss it all. We miss these little gentle reminders of his love. Because we give ourselves too much credit and we demand the showy displays of greatness.

When really, God comes in a gentle and quiet whisper. Interacting with a people undeserving of his attention.

If we can desperately pray for an ability to think the truest thoughts of him, then they will inform us continually of our own wretched status. And the incredible, miraculous grace extended to us. This is the beginning of wonder. This is the baby step.

That we can, in that position and posture, hear the gentle and quiet whispers. And like Elijah, pull our cloaks over our faces, humbled that God would let us hear his voice. 

And hungering all the more for these tastes of glory. These revelations of grace. These moments where we remain in awe of who he is and quite aware of who we are.

Oh, that these moments would become so precious and revered that they direct all our thoughts, words and actions. As we see ourselves clearly in the mirror of Scripture to realize the truth.

We are a dirty, filthy beggar lying at the back entrance of Glory, summoning the courage to knock at the servant's door and ask for a crust of bread or a day's labor.

While the Master throws open the front door to invite us in to become sons and heirs. 

That's the wonder of grace.

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