How to Keep the Thrill of Living.
By Brian Jakowski.
December 12th, twenty-plus years ago my new bride and I arrived in Manhattan, it was Rosaria’s first time in the States. As amazing as New York city is it wasn’t the city that impressed her, it was the snow.
The same snow I complained about driving in and shoveling was a beautiful wonder to her. Next year when autumn leaves turned, it was the same again. She marveled at the striking display of colors taking place in the trees.
Seeing these wonders again, for the first time, through her eyes, I realized how jaded I had become; they were commonplace, too familiar. Without Rosária’s eyes, I couldn’t see their beauty.
A similar trap exists for Christians. Let’s call it, The Innocent Death of Awe.
Cool name, don’t you think, dramatic, and hyper-spiritual, but it boils down to simple Apathy.
So, what is the death of Awe? It is when you’ve grown cold in your relationship with God, fallen from your first love and God has become, common-place and taken for granted in your life. I call it innocent because it occurs passively and mostlyrunnoticed.
For the new Christian, everything is an awe filled, life-changing experience forcing a metamorphosis in your life, heart, and soul; it’s impossible to remain unchanged. You will never be the same!
Being a Christian is many things: exciting, confusing, overwhelming, intimidating, comforting, healing, liberating, but commonplace is the one thing Christianity is not, nor is anything familiar about God/Jesus. Have you read Ezekiel’s and Isaiah’s visions of God or John’s vision in Revelation ? Nothing common there!
Over time, we grow in our faith and intimacy with Jesus, memorizing scriptures, attending or leading small groups, bible studies, conferences and more. In time, you may find yourself mostly isolated, in a safe, familiar environment filled with like-minded people who build up your faith.
That’s a good place to be, as long as your faith doesn’t become a ritual done out of habit, rather than a desire to draw closer to your Savior and grow His kingdom.
In the song, I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack sings, “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.”
Do you, do you feel small beside the ocean or beneath a blanket of stars spread across the black night sky? What do you feel when you witness the miracle of birth or when a newborn’s perfect tiny hand grips your finger? Does the plight of those suffering around the world move you to get involved in the solution?
Do you cry during worship or are you busy texting? When you read God’s word, does it cut and convict you? If you said yes to all or some of these, you’re in a good place; keep doing what you’re doing.
If you said no to most, maybe you’re not where you think you are in your relationship with Jesus.
It’s time to take a step back, find a quiet place, turn off your phone and ask Jesus where you strayed from the path He laid before you, then listen. He’ll lead you back to your first love.
1st Corinthians 10:12–13 says
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but when tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”
We can never stand in our own strength or faith. We stand in Christ and in Christ alone or we fall. James 4: 6–10 tells us,
“…God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Do all these passages say and you’re standing in Jesus strength, under the shelter of His wings, not on your own strength.
How to Keep Faith Growing
Avoiding the Innocent death of awe takes conscious effort here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Set aside a daily devotional time with God. Use this time to read His word and pray. Now here’s the hard part, be still and listen for His still small voice. Guard this time, don’t let life nib in.
- Get out of your church and your comfort zone. Jesus’ ministry was in the streets and among the people; do what he did.
- Don’t go to a bible study. Yes, I said don’t go to a bible study, host a bible study for newbies in the faith. Their questions and curiosity will keep the wonders of God fresh in your eyes and help you always recall why you believe what you believe.
- Make a point of having non-believing friends and share your faith through your life.
- Become a mentor to the youth around you or find a brother or sister in Christ to disciple.
- Go on a short-term mission trip. You’ll receive more than you give and be forever changed.
In other words, don’t sit in the church safe, saved and sanctified. Share the gifts of salvation, grace, and mercy you received from God again and again.
Stop, take time to appreciate the beauty of freshly driven snow or trees sparkling in the sunlight after an ice storm.
Drink in the brilliant colors of the turning leaves, God’s painting them just for you. Sit beside the ocean in awe and listen for God’s voice in the thundering breakers.
Remember, you may be a man or woman stumbling over common temptations, but you serve an Eternal and awesome God who is able and willing to catch us when we fall. He is worthy of our awe, our whole heart, our full attention, and all our praise, yesterday, today and forever.