Wednesday, January 21, 2015

the awesome around us

in an article entitled "almighty God in the age of exaggeration," which was written by Megan Hill and appeared in the november 2014 edition of 'christianity today,' this quote is expressed and defended:
"if everything is awesome, then nothing is."


the defense offered is that only God is truly awesome (eliciting terrible awe) and therefore the word (as well as other adjectives, punctuation marks and emoticons) ought to be reserved for the God who alone is holy.


this, in my humble opinion, is bologna. old, slimy, slightly sour bologna.
"say to God, 'how awesome are your             works!'" - psalm 66:3

the truth is, the poet recognizes that it is not merely the self or substance of God which may elicit a holy sense of awe (or even righteous fear, as isaiah could attest to), but also the works of God; that is, the things that God has done and is doing.

like what?  what could the psalmist possibly be talking about?  well maybe another poem from the collection could shed some light on this.  you know it well, i'm willing to venture, and we call it psalm 19, which begins like this "the heavens (sky) declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of God's hands."  the skies proclaim what?  the works of God, the very same ones which psalm 66 said are, quite plainly, awesome.

you see, david, surrounded by sheep crap and the constant threat of predators, would sometimes be caught off guard by the way the entire western sky would turn the color of hot embers, shining brightly with a burn of glory reflected in the eye of every stinking sheep.  and david would catch his breath and, under it, mutter, "that. is. awesome....God did this.  wow.  holy crap."  and sometimes he would even write about it.  or sing about it.  or, when he was pretty sure that no one was looking, he might dance like a madman until the sheep got nervous, because life is just too stinking awesome to sit with your hands folded in quiet prayer all the time.  and sometimes, when there had been six or seven gray days in a row, with a chill in the air hanging over the mostly sepia-brown landscape, the memory of that orange-lit sky would come blazing back into his mind and his heart and it would be enough to kindle a bit of hope.

and that is awesome.

i'm sorry Megan Hill, but my language affords me far too few words with which to tell of the works of God.

like when i see the way a flag whips and snaps and curls and furls in the wind....

or when i hear the guitar aching and arching and yearning in pearl jam's yellow ledbetter...

or when i small bacon, popping and hissing...

or when i see my children smile in authentic and innocent joy, pure and untainted...

or when i hear patty griffin's voice raise to an urgent desperate plea, with a hint of heaven's glory in it...

or when i get out of bed and discover that i have feet to walk on, lungs to fill with air, and a heart, however many times it has needed mending, to feel with...

or when i consider the vastness of the universe, or the intricacy of a spider's web...

or when a baby is born...

or when the sun rises, again...

or when my wife touches me with a tender love that both knows and accepts me...

or when my faith is enough to believe that despite the messes i make, i am loved beyond my ability to really believe it, and that this love, in the end, just might be enough to save me from my broken self (lord i believe....help my unbelief!)...

or when i remember that no two snowflakes are the same...

or when nick drake's lonesome baritone stokes the dying embers in my soul into new life...

or when the aroma of brewing coffee fills my nostrils and somehow smacks the pleasure center of my brain with its earthy-black magic...

when all of this, and so, so much more....

then all i can say is:

awesome!

you know why?  because God created a world with music and coffee and pleasure centers and sunsets and love and eyes (and other things) that reflect the glory of God's awesomeness.  these are the works of God's hands, and we are God's workmanship, created and crafted with care by a creative God.  and that, my friends, is beyond awesome.

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