The one lie common to us all is the collective delusion that ordinary exists. We are self aware, existentially curious arrangements of minerals hurling around a giant ball of fire at Mach-86 on a rock that’s 99% molten—as in melted—and we (quite literally) can’t be bothered.
Summarizing the Wonderful
Even now, in the reading of these words, millions of photon absorbing cells are feasting on a smorgasbord of electromagnetic radiation in order to give you the sensation we call sight. A web of conductive microstructures are swapping currents in a feverish attempt to make sense of the photon-barrage that you’ve unleashed on your eyes—all this to form in you that spiritual and electrifying experience commonly called a thought. Later, a ghost of that current will remain, twitching away in the deep recesses of your brain—disguised as a chemical dance, flirting with adjacent neurons. The truth truly is stranger than fiction.
And before we get too far, you’re supposed to believe that this stuff just happens—accidentally.
And I might be half inclined to believe that naive proposition if I’d never once glimpsed a snowflake or stood next to a tiger. If I knew nothing of dolphins, rhinos, strawberries, sunsets, photosynthesis, nebulas, and the Himalayas, I would only have to remain ignorant of basically everything else so as not to feel like a total and complete fraud—espousing such a laughable notion. You don’t get narwhals by accident.
But back to our discussion.
All signs point clearly to our being the handiwork of a colossal imagination, dropped into an environment far above our pay grade. So why are we so underwhelmed? Is it that we simply don’t know two thousand pound sea-unicorns exist? That our galaxy is held in place by a supermassive black hole—14 million miles in diameter? And if we know, why don’t we care?
Distractions and Hubris
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with leisure. But oftentimes leisurely activities occupy a position of prominence in our lives that keep us from more important matters. They have the capacity to busy our affections long enough for the bigger picture to pass us by. When abused, they are distractions at best and full-fledged idols at worst.
So at least one reason we aren’t more amazed by creation is our preoccupation with lesser things. There’s nothing wrong with college football, until you choose it over the birth of your child. Feasting on Thanksgiving is enjoyable, but understanding thanksgiving is priceless. I’m convinced that profound and beautiful moments regularly pass us by because iPhones exist. Distractions rob us of wonder.
A Form of Narcissism
I think we lose sight of the marvelous mystery God has woven into the fabric of reality when we become infatuated by our own progress. We build skyscrapers and forget Redwoods. We power a city and forget the star that powers our planet. We print an ear and forget that God has the patent. We may have left Babel, but Babel has not left us—we are far too impressed with ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, jets that fly faster than sound are pretty jaw-dropping. But so are supernovas. And what of the mind that made the mind that made the jet?
Silver Spoon Syndrome
There was a time when chameleons blew our minds and dinosaur bones left us in shock. When exhilaration surged through our veins to contemplate what might be beyond the horizon of this ever-increasingly spectacular planet we call home. But the luster has faded. Our curious and tenacious 6 year old selves had drunk themselves silly on the wonders of the world and now our tolerance is great.
We know cheetahs could get speeding tickets if they were cars, that bats see with their ears, and canyons really can be grand in the truest sense of the word. We’ve read about volcanoes, we’ve vacationed in the Bahamas, and are aware that birds have accomplished what took us centuries to figure out and they’ve been at it since before we’ve existed. We are spoiled children forever fed with silver spoons, yet we won’t be moved for anything less than gold. Lucky for us, there’s more gold than we can stomach.
Sometimes you stumble upon diamonds, and other times you dig’m out of the ground. As kids, we gleefully strolled around picking up any and all the gems we could spot—marveling at dogs, snow, rainbows, how we get milk, where babies come from, and the thrill of running around on these funny appendages we call “legs.” And then we grow up and step in their poop, shovel the snow, we curse the rain on our gutters behalf, spill milk, and change diapers. And our legs don’t work like they use to. Our once prized gems have lost their glow and our attention.
We find ourselves at a fork in the road, with disillusionment forking one way and new glories forking the other. Having to choose between an easy slope down a level path that disappears in the darkness and a tedious journey further up the ravishing mountain that first captured our imagination.
We were once fascinated with our legs, but did we know that the synovial fluid between our knees is a non-Newtonian fluid—becoming instantly thick when met with increased pressure, flowing like water otherwise? Did we understand the complexity of engineering behind how they even work? The ball in socket joint? The mechanical, self mending pistons we call muscles that get their orders from a massive organization of conductive and interdependent bodies in your body? There was much more to our legs than we ever realized, and there’s much more still.
You haven’t found all the gems. You might be looking in places you’ve never looked, reading things you’ve never read, and going places you’ve never gone, but they’re out there. Even if you have to dig.
Ignorance is Bliss
You’ll have to forgive my honesty, but for this last point I’ll be needing my soapbox. The final reason I’ll give for why we sometimes underappreciate the better part of everything is simply that we don’t want to know how everything is so wonderful.
The Bible says that every single person is a sinner that sits under the wrath of God until they cry out to Him for forgiveness, trusting steadfast in the provision He has put forth in the sending of His Son to die for the guilty.
It also says that those who aren’t moved to seek that reconciliation remain in constant rebellion to Him. Whether as a master of passive aggression or a staunchly defiant revolutionary, both alike are warring with their Maker. And when you hate somebody, you don’t frame pictures of them. You probably want nothing to do with them, no reminders, no mementos.
Hence is the issue—
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”Psalm 19:1-3
In looking too close at the world, we might just be reminded of the One who made it. So we do our best to remain blissfully ignorant of everything that sniffs of His presence—to feel comfortable doing what we want, all the live long day. Those who see God as the great cosmic killjoy have good reason not to venture past the safe confines of their agnostic bubble and into nature, where no degree of contrived narration can save them from the clear implications they might encounter on the surface of reality.
Wonderful things make you wonder about God—a scary prospect if you haven’t made amends with Him.
Wonder is not an end in itself. When you find yourself momentarily liberated from media and humbled by the majestic, praise God—it’s why Saturn has rings.
Every bit of this creation was crafted to build in you an appreciation beyond words for the God whose Word made the heavens.
It’s commonplace for opponents of religion to ridicule those who believe in the miraculous, but perhaps if they’d entertain the wonderful more often, talk of miracles wouldn’t come as such a surprise. They might actually come to understand just how miraculous everything truly is.
Once upon a time, God made the world—and you’re in it. Be amazed.
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6 thoughts on “Traces of Glory: Resensitizing Your Sense of Wonder”
I enjoyed the article, Zac.
Although many are as you say, I do think that secularists do see wonder in the world. However, they lack any teleological context for what they see. It’s like reading a book without an author. One may wonder how this book came to be without an author in wonder but that wonder pales in comparison to a well-crafted live-action narrative that we can live in daily reflecting on the creator.
So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? (Quran 55:13)
Thanks Kayvon! My post assumes that creatures know their Creator as readers know the book they are reading necessitates there be an author. I don’t deny that there are some secularists that marvel at the creation, but that if they do it’s because they’ve crafted an alternate narrative for how creation came to be that allows them to stand astonished. It’s their attempt to have their cake and eat it too.
The jab I took at secularists is that they require confirmation of the narrative they’ve crafted from their tribe, so as not to fall victim to an unfiltered encounter with those things that the Bible says bring God glory.
And some kick against the spectacular entirely (the Nihilist type).
Hey Zac it’s Zach! Great job with the verse about God and His handiwork. I think we all too often forget how glorious God’s creation really is! Check out my blog at somethingspiritualsports.com!
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Thanks Zach! I will check it out.
Hello, Zac. Your point about missing out due to cellphones is entirely correct. I need the internet and computers to do my work but I often think we were better off without them.
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I couldn’t agree more. Especially during this time of my life, with my kids growing like weeds in every direction that matters.
Thanks for giving it a read through Scott!