“We drove into Seattle in the middle of the night,” a lady related. “We’d never been there before. The traffic was unbelievable, cars going under us and over us and beside us - lights flashing everywhere, signs and confusion. We were so mixed up. But we took out a map - and I just read each street sign as we came to it, following along on the map with my finger. We drove right to where we wanted to be - it was awesome.”
Sometimes I have felt a similar sense of awe with my commuter. The first times that I hit several keys in a peculiar sequence and it did the things computers do - I felt awe... at least until it did it so many times that it was no longer a marvel to me. Now I just take it for granted.
Awe seems to easily wear off. After a time, what once amazed us becomes common-place. My mouth doesn’t drop open when I flip a little plastic switch on the wall and bright light suddenly glows from a glass bulb hanging from the ceiling. Nor do I do bow in awed reverence when a square metal box in my kitchen washes dirty dishes at the push of a button. Maybe I once did, but now I expect them to work. Somehow that initial sense of awe goes away - at least until a bigger and better marvel comes along.
The dictionary describes awe as: “...profound and humbly fearful reverence... submissive and admiring fear...”
The ability to be amazed, to have a sense of awe or marvel at a new or impressive phenomena, is built into us. We display it when we see something new or foreign to our experience. It may be a powerful machine or an authoritative person, or an event that is unexpected and wonderful.
When this ability to feel awe wears off with familiarity, no doubt it is because it was never intended to last - at least when the focus is on people, things or events. Instead, it was given to us as a necessity for worship, that we might focus on God, in awe, marveling at His power and authority.
In fact, Solomon said that the whole duty of man was to stand in awe of God and obey His commands. Surely those who do take time to really look at God will be filled with this awe and “profoundly and humbly” give Him reverence.
The Psalmist says: “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him: for He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast...” and then goes on to describe the power and majesty of the LORD - things that are truly awesome.
Being amazed at God never becomes common-place because we can never know all there is to know about Him. There is simply so much to His character, so much to His power, that we could spend a lifetime and still be learning, still be in awe.
In my life, when I earnestly seek God, what He reveals of Himself to me through His Word and His Son always produces a response of awe. That awe wore off with things like light switches, or computers, even though I know they will do exactly what I ask (how amazing!) and what they do is rather marvelous.
The awe of knowing God is different. He never becomes ordinary or common-place.