Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't Lose Your Awe!

I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  It was a great place to grow up.  The city is well-known for being the coldest major city in North America.  It is also a place that is flat.  There are no hills in Winnipeg – it is built on some of the flattest land in the world.

My wife is from Montana and when we got married, we settled in the Missoula area.  And after growing up in a place with no hills, I never tire of looking at the mountains around me.  Whether it’s the Flint Creek Range south of Drummond or Snowbowl and Lolo Peak on my morning walks, I cannot get enough of mountains.  After almost 15 years of living in western Montana, the peaks never get old.

Are there things in your life that you never tire of?  Things that constantly amaze you?  Things that generate awe in your life?  Is God included on that list?

In his book, Dangerous Calling:  Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, Paul David Tripp addresses the danger of losing our awe of God.  Pastors handle God’s word each and every day.  They talk about the things of God.  They counsel people on the basis of those truths.  They study and parse His revelation.  And in some cases, while familiarity may not breed contempt, it is easy for it to breed a sense of commonness toward God and the things of God.  And this danger is not just for pastors – I think any believer can fall into this danger of divine things becoming increasingly common in our lives.

Dr. Tripp lists a variety of situations where this can happen.  Read this list carefully and with a sense of self-examination:

You’ve spent so much time in Scripture that its grand redemptive narrative, with its expansive wisdom, doesn’t excite you anymore.  You’ve spent so much time exegeting the atonement that you can stand at the foot of the cross with little weeping and scant rejoicing.  You’ve spent so much time discipling others that you are no longer amazed at the reality of having been chosen to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  You’ve spent so much time unpacking the theology of Scripture that you’ve forgotten that its end game is personal holiness.  You’ve spent so much time in strategic, local-church ministry planning that you’ve lost your wonder at the sovereign Planner that guides your every moment.  You’ve spent so much time meditating on what it means to lead others in worship, but you have little private awe.  It’s all become so regular and normal that it fails to move you anymore….  (Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling, pg. 114-115)

Is that you?  And if it is you, what can you do about it?  The remedy Dr. Tripp suggests is to begin with one of the Bible’s awe passages, a passage like Ps. 145.

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them. (Ps. 145: 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 18-19, ESV)

Psalms like this make it clear that the deepest motivation of every human being is to live in awe of God.  It is an awe that should govern our reality.  That awe should shape our decisions, it should empower our marriages, it should guide our parenting, it should give direction in our walk with God, and it should dominate every aspect of our ministry.

Have you lost your awe?  Are the things of God becoming common?  Do you tire of walking with God or ministering to the people of God?  Seek God’s face, meditate on His character, praise Him for his work and wonder at His salvation.  Don’t lose your awe – you don’t know what else you will lose along with it.

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