A few years ago, my wife, Margaret, took me to a concert by country singer Lee Ann Womack. That night I heard a song that changed my perspective forever. It was written by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers. The song is
"I Hope You Dance." Here are the lyrics:
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid, love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance ... I hope you dance...
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance ... I hope you dance ...
These days, many people have forgotten how to bask in the joys of the life that God gives. Many are become burdened with the cares of the world. They are cynical about the current political climate and acrimony. They are afraid from the news and the uncertainty. Many people are so consumed with entertainment, materialism, and temporal life. Over time, some people become embittered by the injustices and discouraged by the problems that life often brings. As we age, many people can forget the pleasures of life, nature’s beauties, and the hopes for brighter tomorrow. People can get bored and unimpressed with the majestic and grand. Sadly, many miss the wisdom of the ages and the wonder of faith. And worst of all, they forget God!
This week, for our mid-week email chat, I want to talk to you about the importance of seeing amazing and awesome things of life and faith. The words
“awesome” have gotten hijacked by the world in recent years. It seems like every television commercial uses the word
“amazing” describe their product, their event, or their service. Most every conversation I have with someone under the age of 40, the word
“amazing” are used multiple times. These words are so over-used that they don’t really describe what is truly amazing and awesome.
“awesome” are Bible words. Consider these verses:
“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.’ "
“And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched…”
‘How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!”
You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior…”
“Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!’”
“And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!’” (ESV)
Maybe you have lost your joy? Would like to be truly amazed? Would you like to get your wonderment back? Would like to focus on the truly awesome things? Here are
10 suggestions to see the amazing and the awesome things of God:
Look at Jesus. If you look at Jesus, pattern your life after Him, use His principles to guide your life, your amazement and awe will increase. From His immaculate conception, to His earthly ministry to His resurrection, our Lord Jesus brought wonderment to people:
Luke 2: 17-18:
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
“Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, ‘We have seen amazing things today!’”
“Then some women from our group of His followers were at His tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report.”
Charles Gabrile and Edwin Excell wrote a song about this amazement. It said:
I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.
O how marvelous! O how wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful! Is my Savior’s love for me!
When you realize that Jesus loves you, a sinner who needed a Savior, that will astonish and amaze you more than anything! When you look at Jesus, see how He lived a sinless life, taught such life-changing principles, performed miracle after miracle, chose to die a painful death, atoned for your sins, and rose from the dead, you will be awestruck and amazed. When you let Him run your life, the amazement will increase. The more you remember the eternal life He gives, your amazement will heighten. So, continue to look at Jesus! He will amaze to you and leave to breathless with awe! If you accept Jesus’s salvation and pledge Him your life through faith, your life will become truly amazing and awesome!
Meet God every day. C.S. Lewis said:
“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express that same delight in God which made David dance.” Lewis is referring to the time in 2 Samuel 6:14 when David was so overcome with the joy of the Lord and awestruck with the goodness of God that he danced. When you read the Bible, the stories, the wisdom, the doctrines, the redemptive history, you will be awestruck and amazed as you see God at work. Like Isaiah (6:1), when you meet God in worhship, you will find Him
“high and exalted.” Have a daily quiet time with Bible reading, prayer, and meditation! When you do, your awe and amazement will grow!
Seek God. In noise of the world and the busyness of life, Satan is heard. But it is in the stillness and silence of private worship that God is heard. Psalm 111:2 says:
“How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in Him should ponder them.” In Psalm 46:10. God says:
“Be still, and know that I am God …” So slow down. When was the last time you were moved by something beautiful, inspired you read, or brought to tears by something that touched your heart? The more you look full in God’s wonderful face, the more wonder you will see. Make the pursuit of God your focus and wonder will return to your life.
Commune with God in His creation. Many people are so busy that that they are oblivious to the beauty and blessing around them. I lived 3 blocks from the Pacific Ocean for 13 years. Sadly, there would be days when I was so busy that I didn’t ever look at the waves. I could be so consumed with my work and my life that I missed the redwoods on my drive in and out of Half Moon Bay. Exodus 15:11says:
"Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” Watch the sunrise and sunset. Smell the roses. Take a walk in the park. See God’s hand in mountains, the ocean, the trees, in the flowers, and in all of nature. Let Him speak to you as He did to the writer of Psalm 19. You will be amazed and filled with awe at Him!
Turn off the entertainment on a regular basis. I love movies, television, and the internet! But a person can get so addicted to the glitz and glamor of this present world that the awesome things of God no longer seem that awesome. When we live in the surreal world of video games, television, movies and the internet, our senses get so dulled by the entertainment of the make-believe world that we miss the excitement of watching real life unfold. The worst thing is that the world’s entertainment creates amazement and wonder apart from God. Don’t let that happen! Shut that stuff off!
Look up. Choose to turn from cynicism to faith. Don’t let the bugs on your mental windshield destroy your view. Things swirl around us so much that we get jaded by things that seem insurmountable and impossible to fix. As Nehemiah (1:5) faced an impossible task, he saw our awesome God. He prayed:
"O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands …” As Nehemiah (4:14) led the rebuilding of Jerusalem, he told God’s people:
"Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." God’s people should not lose their sense of awe at God’s ability to do whatever we ask or think. Discipline yourself to see all God has done and is doing.
Stay away from the mall. Constant acquisition produces synthetic satisfaction. When you use your awe and amazement in the search for and the purchase of the next gadget, the next trinket, and the next purchase, amazement will diminish. Be careful that your desires for cars, houses, clothes, or whatever will take away the true and lasting joy of simply living and enjoying life as God meant it to be. Nothing will take away awe and amazement like materialism. In Luke 12:15, Jesus said:
“life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Don’t let material stuff keep you from real life in Christ.
Watch for things that inspire awe and wonderment. When was the last time you were moved by something beautiful, something inspiring, or something that touched your hear? I like many of the Chicken Soup books because they are stories of ordinary people who found joy in something they experienced. Read books by Max Lucado, A.W. Tozer, J.C. Ryle, Watchman Nee, Richard Foster, Randy Alcorn, and dozens of others. Work at keeping a natural curiosity in your heart about God, wisdom, doctrine, faith, and so much more. Be humble enough learn from others who know how to stay amazed and awestruck with God.
Look back with gratitude. When I was growing up, my family lived a block off Green Lake in Seattle. Back then, I walked the lake trail home from school. A few years ago, I was back in Seattle. One Sunday afternoon, I walked around Green Lake again. It was nostalgic to walk the same path 50 years later. On that 3 ½ mile walk, I must have stopped 15 times to reflect with awe and amazement. With tears of gratitude in my eyes, I thanked God for love of my mom and dad. I thanked God for several teachers who taught me so well. I thanked God for Elim Baptist where I had some good and godly mentors. I thanked God for Lee Foote, my Youth for Christ director, who showed me how to lead. I thanked God for my dear Christian friend, Tom Ossinger, who still is my fellow- struggler in following the Lord. I thanked God for Herb and Nellie Kendall who taught me to ski. I thanked God for His forgiveness and grace in some things that I am not proud of. I thanked God for His protection and mercies. I thanked God for taking me, this insecure kid, with so many hang-ups and entrusting me with things I never deserved. By the time I was done with my walk, I may have used up my handkerchief, but I was also filled with awe and amazement. Maybe you need to take a walk down memory lane too? If you look back, you will be amazed by the goodness of God and awestruck by the blessings He has given you!
Remember God’s amazing grace. Mature Christians should never lose the simple wonderment of that God sent His Son to die for our sins. With John Newton, the slave trader turned Christ follower of the 18
th century, we should be singing his song:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Unfortunately, over time many long-term Christians lose their wonder and astonishment with God’s grace. My dad used to call them
“sermon-soaked saints.” Sometime people hear the Good News so many times, know God’s grace so well, and taste the sweetness of the Christian life that they lose their amazement. The songs, the Bible stories, and the Lord’s Supper become so common place that some Christians don’t ever think about their meaning or the joy they bring. Don’t let that happen to you! With Psalm 111:9 keep saying:
“He provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever — holy and awesome is His name.”
In these days of Covid, we long to enjoy corporate worship again. But in the middle of this craziness and uncertainty, we can find solace, joy, and confidence in our awesome God and His amazing grace. If you can learn to be amazed and awestruck with the things of God, you will find everything you hear long for!
I love being your pastor!
Pastor Mark Platt