Chapter 5 of AWE: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do by Paul David Tripp
A Review by Pastor Aaron Adame
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” Isaiah 6:3 (ESV)
All around us there is beauty, wonder, and glory that is specifically designed to magnify and direct us to the One behind it all—and we miss it! Because of sin and human fallenness we are oblivious and careless toward the things of God that would stir up awe in us for God. We suffer from Awe-Amnesia.
Tripp opened with the story of when he took his son to a famous art gallery, to which he reveled in its wonders, while his son yawned deep yawns of boredom. He couldn’t get his son to see what he could see in this incredible artwork. For his son, it wasn’t something that he cared about, let alone, even noticed.
I remember when I moved here to Oregon, I was in AWE of the beauty of this area. The waterfalls, the rivers, the coast; yes, even Portland was beautiful to me. There was so much green—everything seemed alive.
Of course, you have to remember, I came from the dry and smoggy climate of Southern California. A place that hadn’t seen rain since the Flood in Noah’s day. It was dry and hot and nothing would grow without an insane amount of water and effort.
So coming to the PNW, it was like I was breathing for the first time. I was in AWE!
However, as I would boast of my adventures, Oregon natives were baffled because I had gone places they’d never even desired to go, or even knew about, and they had lived here their whole lives. I concluded they were missing the awe in their own beautiful state. Conversely, when I would tell them that I lived near Disneyland and I only went a handful of times in my life, they were shocked by my awe-amnesia toward Disneyland. Seriously, how many times can you listen to It’s a Small World?
I guess the effect is universal—the longer you live somewhere, things just…are. They’re commonplace; therefore, awe-amnesia sets in. We can’t see the beauty and wonder that is all around us because we are too used to seeing it and we either a) take it for granted or b) we don’t stop and take the time to consider the One to whom it directs us to.
It’s really incredible when you think about it—the whole earth is full of His glory. Everything about the creation speaks (Ps 19) about the Creator!
However, it isn’t just creation we suffer awe-amnesia of. There are many other facets of life that we neglect or fail to see the beauty and wonder in. People suffer from amnesia in their Bible reading. Why? Because they are unable to see the beauty and wonder of God’s story recorded in Scripture. The fact that God has spoken in space and time to people, revealing himself to mankind is a glorious thought in and of itself. Biblical amnesia exists because people don’t take the time to sit and bask in the wonder of God’s Word. My prayer for you is that you would have the heart of the Psalmist who wrote: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps 119:18).
But it goes beyond amnesia toward God’s Word and stretches even toward His church. Listen to this insanely wonderful yet familiar text in Acts 2: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And AWE came upon every soul” (Act 2:42–43, emphasis added).
Did you pick up what Luke is penning down here? When the church simply did what the church was supposed to do, a sense of awe was awakened in every soul. If you are suffering from awe amnesia, when was the last time you gathered with God’s saints? And if you did, did you participate in the community as these early believers did, devoting yourself to knowing, hearing and applying God’s Word, intentionally engaging in fellowship with other believers around you—asking to hear their stories, praying for them and having them pray for you? Did you receive the elements of the Lord’s Supper after examining the grace displayed within them? Were you amazed as you looked around at a bunch of different people from different walks of life and marveled at the fact that God saved a bunch of wretches like us?
I don’t know about you, but a waterfall can spark awe in me, but a church on fire for Christ and His mission in the world amazes me week in and week out.
Of course, if creation, God’s Word, and the church doesn’t snap you into a sense of awe, then likely you are searching for awe in the wrong places, all of which Tripp discussed in the chapter. In the several points he mentioned, he included a self-examining question at the end of each one to diagnose what has stolen your sense of awe away from the Lord—I encourage you take the time to honestly consider those questions.
In closing, as Tripp has said already, God made us with a desire and capacity for awe. But sin and human fallenness has made us oblivious and careless toward the things of God. The challenge is to pray that God would give us eyes to see the beauty and wonder that has become commonplace in our daily lives.