Beholding with Wonder

Do you remember counting down the days before Christmas when you were a kid? It felt as if nothing could come any slower. Every morning before going on the bus, I remember looking at the gifts in different sizes and shapes, trying to imagine what could possibly be beneath the wrappings. The school days were long in December. The Christmas season was full of anticipation and our lives full of wonder.

Wonder is a precious thing. It is hard to find and once it is found it is hard to keep. As the years pass by, traditions and gifts lose their appeal. Mature minds no longer feel the need to see the world with wide eyes. We tell ourselves that Christmas has come before and will always be back next year. What was once sacred is now commonplace—and that is a real shame.
Christmas is not the only occasion where this happens. I ran across this quote in Ronald Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther Here I Stand. Bainton paraphrases Luther’s words:
“The trouble with Erasmus is that he is not stupefied with wonder at the child in the womb. He does not contemplate marriage with reverent amazement, nor praise and thank God for the marvel of a flower or the bursting of a peach stone by the swelling seed. He beholds wonders like a cow staring at a new door. The deficiency of faith is made evident by a lack of wonder, for nature is a revelation to those whom God has already revealed.”

This is lofty language. Luther is criticizing Erasmus, one of his religious contemporaries, for his lack of wonder. Instead of being provoked to powerful worship by the splendor of creation, Erasmus (according to Luther) responded with a cold indifference. Kind of like many of us.
It is easy to get desensitized to the beauty that surrounds us every day. Even the Christian message, heard over and over again can get stale and lose its appeal. In our study of God and His Holy Word there is a temptation to become sterilized intellectualists; lifeless academics who have long lost their ability to marvel. Kind of like a cow beholding her barn door.
I definitely understand this. I like to learn new things and pack my mind with facts about truth, which is a good thing. But if that truth fails to give me a sense of childlike wonder, leading me to my knees in worship and praise—I have dangerously missed the point. “The deficiency of faith is made evident by a lack of wonder.”
As Christians, we have been revealed beauty upon beauty. Marvel upon marvel--in both the general revelation (creation) and specific (Scripture). We cannot see the world as the blind accident the atheist sees. For us, everything is sacred; every detail of creation is transformed into an intimate gift from our heavenly Father. Every sunset and every season is a proclamation of the glory of God. Every snowflake and ever song is a call--compelling us to worship with wonder. Let’s recapture that wonder this Christmas season.

“And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” --Matthew 18:3

Bainton, Roland H. Here I Stand; a Life of Martin Luther. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1950. Print. (168)


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