Someone had said to me, “I don’t like the Eiffel Tower. It is too weird of a structure to be standing in the middle of a city.” Because I respect people’s tastes (and I don’t work for the French embassy), I didn’t disagree with him. Though later on, I asked him, “When did you visit Paris?” And he said, “Oh, I’ve never been there but I’ve seen enough of the Eiffel in pictures and movies.” Although the most iconic structure in France does not appeal to everyone, I believe there was still a high probability that this person’s impression could change if he were standing on the banks of the Seine in the 7th arrondissment, staring at the real Tour Eiffel in the city of lights. Pictures and movies cannot fully capture that experience for him or anyone.
Psalm 33:8 says “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!”
We have a God who is awesome beyond description and it makes perfect sense to live in awe of him. To be awed is more than to be inspired. The word awe describes a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear and wonder.For us believers, it is our heart’s response to the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God that reveals to us who Jesus is. The early church lived this out. They were filled with awe at what God was doing in and among them. “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, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43.
Counterfeits do not inspire awe.
In the letter to the Hebrews, believers are encouraged to be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe.(Hebrews 12:28). I do think there are times when we go about our days in great need of this God-directed awe. Having hearts that are prone to wander, we tend to look away from his light and limit our vision within ourselves and our own situations. Maybe we have been hurt by fellow believers, those we count on as image-bearers of Christ, and it has discouraged us from turning our eyes to the God who forgives and restores. I bet we have also chosen the ordinary over the extraordinary God, and in our complacency, have been too easily pleased by counterfeits and faulty images of him, not unlike the fellow I met who relied on pictures and movies to form his opinion of a monumental landmark. When we find ourselves lacking in awe of God, it is not because God has ceased to be awesome. It is because we have settled for weak surrogates of his greatness, poor substitutes of the true satisfaction that comes from him alone.
There is no way God’s greatness could ever decrease. It is our faith that must increase.
In the end of the story of Job, after all the hardship he went through, he repented of his arrogance before God, and said “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know…I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear but now my eye sees you.” Job 42:3,5 Out of his goodness and wisdom, God himself builds our faith and does whatever it takes for the eyes of our hearts to see him for who he really is. When we stand in awe of him, when we make much of our Savior and Bridegroom, grace takes over and we are changed. Hearts that are filled with awe of him, cannot remain hard or prideful, because the worship of him who is much greater is a good antidote to the worship of self. God may bring tears but only to wash off the scales that blind us, so that we can see that Jesus is our soul’s true joy, and we can delight in unwrapping the endless treasures of his kingdom even as we live in the here and now, Now, that is AWESOME!
“I came to see that I was wired for awe, that awe of something sits at the bottom of everything I say and do. But I wasn’t just wired for awe. I was wired for awe of God. No other awe satisfies the soul. No other awe can give my heart the peace, rest, and security that it seeks. I came to see that I needed to trace awe of God down to the most mundane of human decisions and activities.” Paul David Tripp