My husband and I recently returned from a trip to London. We really loved the city and its atmosphere, even though it rained for a little less than half our time there. As I’m sure many Houstonians can relate, we were a bit saddened when upon return to our city the heat and humidity were already raging!
While in London, we saw a lot of the places that our friends told us were “must-see” places: Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the British Museum, the British Library, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, to name a few. We had a tour guide, Robert, who was a local Londoner. I could tell that our guide loved the city; especially its architecture and history. He didn’t just tell us facts and scoot us along to the next big thing on the list. Instead, he gave us pointers for how to engage in experiencing each site in a meaningful way. I remember him saying, “As you walk along, have a look at the ceiling, a marvel of architecture and stonework. Pause for a moment and think about what it must have taken to create this great structure.”
A few times, we got to talk with Robert when we were en route to a location. I asked him a question about the people and the culture in the city. I was astounded by the vast history of London and I wondered about the people who currently lived there. Did they appreciate and wonder about all that had happened in their past? Were they fascinated by these same places that tourists visited from all over the world? He thought for a moment and said, “You know, I don’t think they are as fascinated. I think they just get used to it.” Robert then told me that he had ridden the bus home the night before. Though he usually sits on the bottom level, he decided to go up top and have a look around. He said, “I saw St. Paul’s all lit up and beautiful against the night skyline. I guess I had never seen her from that angle before. As I thought about her amazing history and beauty, I looked around the bus to see who else might be enjoying the view. There was not a single person looking around. All heads were down reading papers or checking mobiles.”
I’ll try to avoid a hasty generalization here by saying one example proves some broad sweeping statement about how humans have lost their awe and wonder at the world; especially the familiar world around them. However, I will contend that it is possible to do so. Robert’s story reminded me of this possibility. I told him I suppose I do the same thing living in “Space City” where we’ve somewhat grown accustomed to the presence of N.A.S.A. So we’ve sent people into outer space…big deal. What a loss for wonder at such a great feat! Even closer to home, I’ve grown used to the presence of my family and friends. I forget to take a moment to “look up” and see the beauty of God’s creation in them, the marvel of His handiwork. I’ve become victim to a situation of my own making, one in which everything has become mundane.
So I must further uncover a concept of which I have limited understanding: reverence. It’s not a notion of which I encounter much in daily life. A. W. Tozer wrote in Whatever Happened to Worship: “The fear of God is… astonished reverence.
I believe that the reverential fear of God mixed with love and fascination and astonishment and admiration and devotion is the most enjoyable state and the most satisfying emotion the human soul can know.” When I lack reverential fear of the Lord, I will lack a reverence for what He has made. This lack of reverence seems particularly true about the people around me on a daily basis. Instead of being filled with wonder, astonishment, fascination, and love of them, I see them as part of everyday, mundane processes. Oh there’s Joe and I’m probably going to have to talk with him. Now here’s Sarah and she’s going to need something from me. What a loss for wonder at the complexity and beauty of God’s creation!
I do not wish to be unwise in my approach to combating this tendency in me. It’s not enough to commit to appreciating people around me more. What I seek takes a commitment to allowing God to constantly renew me so that I might, in some small way, see Him for who He is; to see Him as the Lord Creator of the universe, as the perfect, pure and holy God! Then may I understand, though through my flawed abilities, that He is the only one worthy of worship and His position commands an unparalleled respect and awe. It is through the respect of God that I will find a wonder at what He has made.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.