lost in wonder
life always seems to drift towards a rut, doesn’t it? the “new” always quickly fades and we’re left wanting more.
okay, life isn’t quite that ominous, but look around you at other Christians, especially those who have some history at church. we know it all and we’ve seen it all. there are very few surprises.
we listen intently to every new speaker, every new book, every new song, hoping that maybe something new will spark our interest. our sense of wonder is dead.
some might mark this as a symptom of our culture, but the truth is we’ve been longing for wonder for a long time.
look at John 11. a passage so familiar that it becomes white noise in our heads. it’s the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead–and home to that one Bible verse you knew you could memorize (John 11:35).
Jesus was on His way to Bethany. “When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
Martha always gets the “shame on you” tone when we read this passage. how dare she talk to Jesus in such a way! but if you listen to what she said, Martha believes. she believes that Jesus can do great things. she knows that He could have healed her brother, but she also knows that He still can.
“Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
“Yes,” Martha said, “when everyone else rises, on resurrection day.”
Martha knew Jesus could do big things. she just didn’t expect them. she thought that He would work in the same old way He always had–miraculous, nonetheless, but predictable.
i’m the same way. i know so much about God. i know about scripture. i’ve functioned in the culture of Christianity for so long that i know it too well.
i don’t know everything, but i know that God doesn’t always heal when we want Him to–i’ve seen too many family members die from cancer to know that’s a reality.
i know God sometimes says “no” when i desperately want Him to say “yes.”
i know God says wait when i want Him to make things happen.
i know. i know. i know. so did Martha.
but then Jesus did something that messed up Martha’s knowing.
He moved beyond all her rationalizations.
He surpassed her efforts at self-protection, trying to minimize the hurt and disappointment that life may not turn out the way Martha wanted.
Jesus did what Martha completely didn’t expect Him to do–He raised her brother from the dead.
Martha gained back her wonder. she saw Jesus not only do great things for other people, He did something amazing for her.
do you want that sense of wonder? do you want God to blow you away beyond all the boxes you put Him in? because despite all our rhetoric about avoiding boxing God in, in our hearts, we lean towards minimizing and limiting Him. it keeps our faith nice and safe. we don’t get hurt by disappointment.
it also keeps it boring.
don’t you want to read a passage of scripture and just be amazed at the new things you discover every time you read? don’t you want to learn new things about this God whom you think you know so well? then wouldn’t it be great if all of that knowledge and all of that amazement poured into your life, into your everyday, mundane routine? the result would be more than just Lazarus being raised from the dead. you would see some life in your own dead places as well.
that’s the kind of relationship Jesus wants with each one of us. He wants your relationship with Him to be filled with wonder. He wants to show you new things about Himself, things that consistently push and pull at the limits we try to put on Him.
maybe then we could all get lost in wonder too.
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One thought on “lost in wonder”
Another superb post, Tim.
I was Methodist until I was 20, and now, after so many years elsewhere, I am helping with music in a small Methodist church once again. Reading your post, I found myself thinking of Charles Wesley’s wonderful hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”:
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of Heav’n, to earth come down,
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling:
All Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
Into ev’ry troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit,
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning,
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Nevermore Thy temples leave:
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish then Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in Thee:
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in Heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Here are a bunch of Lutherans singing it: