Life In Awe

Note: Mission Trip Forms & Deposit dues this Friday, March 11! Also, Worship Workshop (hybrid) this Saturday, March 12 from 10-11:30 am. Details for both, below.

Last night, I watched American Idol.

This isn’t really a scandalous statement, as millions of people watch this show. But I never really have. Growing up singing competitively and meandering through understanding the cut-throat music industry, American Idol just seemed too commercial and canned for my taste. However, I’ve been watching this season because I think it’s really good and the judges seem genuinely supportive of the budding singers’ growth. Anyhow, last night one contestant sang “Firework” recorded by Katy Perry; as one of the judges, Katy Perry mentioned that the lyric in her way-famous 2010 hit song, “Firework” is…

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, “Oh, oh, oh”
You’re gonna leave ’em all in awe, awe, awe

Katy Perry, Firework

How many people did not know the last words were “awe” instead of some other sound? Apparently lots of people. And it reminded me of the other times the word AWE has come up this past week:

  • a meeting with colleagues discussing this summer’s NYC mission trip theme of “wonder and awe” around God’s Creation
  • an email with ways that we can share the “awe” of prayer with teens
  • reading Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart and the times she mentions the power of awe
  • weekend research of a (hopeful) summer beach vacation; talking about being in awe of the beautiful waters

Fuller Youth Institute is a resource I’ve mentioned here several times, including in this blog’s Parent Library. They have fantastic information for anyone of faith, especially those with youth in their lives. Here’s what they posted today, written by Lisa Nopachai:

Research has shown that experiences of awe and wonder cultivate humility.

From a faith perspective, this connection makes sense: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of God’s hands,” says Psalm 19:1. As Christians, we believe all that inspires awe and wonder in this world does so because it was created by God. We don’t worship nature itself; we worship the One who created it. And taking some time to slow down, breathe, and look at God’s creation—really look—leads us to a place of a more accurate assessment of ourselves, which is a key component of humility.

In fact, one study found that “awe led participants to present a more balanced view of their strengths and weaknesses to others and acknowledge, to a greater degree, the contribution of outside forces in their own personal accomplishments.”

Cultivating awe and wonder is also shown by research to increase compassion, kindness, generosity, and perseverance, and to improve mood. It’s an uplifting and refreshing way to connect with God, and a spiritual practice that can ultimately help us live out kingdom values within our communities.

She goes on to mention the exact book I’m reading right now(!), Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown. In this book, Brown offers a helpful definition of awe and wonder credited to researchers Ulrich Weger and Johannes Wagerman:[i]

“‘Wonder inspires the wish to understand; awe inspires the wish to let it shine, to acknowledge and to unite.’ When feeling awe, we tend to simply stand back and observe, ‘to provide a stage for the phenomenon to shine.’”

Weger & Wagerman
A Colorado sunset view

AWE is all around us. My spouse, Matt, loves to find moments “when he feels small.” Now that mind be a strange comment for a guy who grew up playing football and baseball, lifting weights with friends, but this is the basis of his faith. When he looks out from the height of a mountain or with toes in the sand while hearing the roar of crashing waves, he feels small. And God feels very BIG. Matt feels close to God when he experiences awe.

“When we experience awe and wonder, we’re reminded of how small we really are and how big God is.”

Lisa Nopachai

How are you experiencing awe and wonder today?

Torrey Pines in California – a great hike!

Perhaps take a few minutes and close your eyes, breathing deeply, focusing on one image of awe in this world. God is surely in the awe, as God is our Firework.

Happy Week!


Worship Workshop – Saturday, March 12 from 10:00 to 11:30 am

Summer is Coming!

Mission Trip Details and Sign up:

  • Register & Pay deposit by March 11 (or earlier, so I can book your flight!)

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