Imagine having no concept of life outside of the town in which you grew up. You live before technology enabled sightseeing from the comfort of the couch and before travel became almost as quick as it is common. How would seeing Niagara Falls for the first time, or the Northern Lights, be a different experience? The sense of wonder felt would be incredible, unsurpassed by anything ever encountered before.
Damaged by the Digital Age
Our natural inclination to wonder at amazing sights, however, has been damaged by a digital age. Photographs from around the world are everywhere; without leaving his home a child can know what the Grand Canyon at one end of the world and the Great Wall of China at the other end look like. Of course, the pictures are nothing compared to the actual sights, but the expectations from a postcard or photo online often diminish the natural wonder that would have been so much greater if the beauty was unexpected. And when traveling to physically witness the beauty of nature, all too often we are surrounded by a crowd of people taking pictures—intent on saving a small portion of the beauty forever on a tiny screen instead of savoring the short moment of great beauty in person.
Advanced methods of transportation are a wonderful thing, and it is a gift to live in the 21st century and have the means to travel halfway around the world in one plane flight; that opportunity is not valued enough. Traveling to a new place should not be treated as an opportunity for photos or to say you’ve been there. Traveling should be a great opportunity to witness more of God’s creation, to revel in a sense of awe and wonder.
The Awe of Discovery
Additionally, humanity has become overly preoccupied with a sense of its own power. In an age of increasingly advanced technology, scientists discover new wonders every day. Yet these discoveries seem not to be heralded with a sense of awe and appreciation of a universe created by an all-powerful God and beyond our understanding, but rather with a belief that humanity must be approaching the all-powerful status of creator gods. The study of science is an incredible opportunity—one that should be approached with a love for the subject studied and a plethora of God-given curiosity.
God speaks to us through the natural world; when we look up at the stars or watch the waves crash on the sand, we are witnesses to the fingerprints of God. Creation is intricately designed; the universe is created to sustain us. It is a gift, not a one-in-a-million chance (a fact we often forget in our day-to-day lives). But God is not only seen through the order and design found in creation. He is also visible through the breathtaking beauty that surrounds us, if only we would look up.
The life of a Christian should be one where the supernatural is experienced every day. Truly we are walking miracles who believe in a God who can raise from the dead and forgive sin; living as children of such a God is amazing beyond what our minds can fathom. But too often we forget the miracle that we are. Unaware of the inner workings of our mind, body, and soul, we eat, drink, and sleep without recognizing the incredibly intricate system that makes us human.
God is Good
God is good, and this should fill us with awe and wonder. But what do we focus on? A busy schedule, gossip between friends, the next meal, complaints of life and work and family. Though we were created to live our lives in awe of an amazing God, we find ourselves settling for lesser words, actions, decisions, and desires. Though our hearts are searching, hungry and unsatisfied, we fail to look upward; we look around and are impressed by nothing; we have lost this sense of awe and wonder and come away empty.
Praising God is one of the most important and wonderful things we can do in this life, and an especially amazing way to praise him is through admiration of his creation. The sense of wonder is one of the most incredible feelings in this world. To stand on a mountaintop and see all that God has created and how beautiful it is, the feeling of your heart overflowing with praise for God: truly this is the closest to heaven we will get on earth. The psalmist expresses this feeling beautifully:
“O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all…
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works…
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.”
(Psalm 104: 24, 31, 33)