Several days ago, during my vacation in Colorado, I stood on a rocky point, about 9,000 feet up, looking out over the Sangre De Cristo mountains. The place is called “Inspiration Point” by locals and it lived up to its name. I felt real worship at that moment, awed by the beauty. When a tiny baby is laid in my arms, my response is never to scream or yell with delight over new life. Instead a tender silence envelopes the child and me. I see yet another miracle of new creation. Have you felt awe recently?
Awe is growing extinct and, with its passing, we are losing the art of listening. We crank up the volume, buy ever bigger TV screens, shovel sound into our ears constantly- and – we risk becoming deaf to the voice of the Spirit. He often speaks to us as He did to Elijah, with that “still, small voice,” a whisper in our soul.
Often, because we are such activity freaks and noise junkies, on those moments when we do become aware of His Presence, instead of growing still before Him, we open our mouths to make noise! Incapable of quiet wonder, we insist that somebody says something, sings something. Richard Foster, a favorite author, observes “Our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied.” – Celebration of Discipline
We need to ‘hear’ the admonition of God that came to a man who didn’t know enough about awe to keep his mouth shut and his ears open! It comes from the Gospels.
“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 17:1-7, NIV)
Dear Peter, how I love him! I fear that I do the same kind of thing, blurting out some inane remark instead of pondering the Presence! The ancient prophet declares, “God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!” (Habakkuk 2:20, The Message) Just so we’re clear, His holy temple is not St. Patrick’s or any other church building. We, Believer, are His holy Temple. And when we sense the Spirit moving in us – be it in corporate worship, standing on a mountain, or in the company of a suffering saint – an appropriate response is to grow still; to allow awe to overwhelm us, even as something that feels like terror sweeps over us.
Here is a word from the Word.
“LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day, in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2, NIV)
Today, make some space in all the ‘noise’ of your life to listen. Invite the Spirit to fill you up with holy awe. Like Elijah, you will find that in the quietness, the small voice of God whispers a great big message of assurance to your soul.
Spirit Of God Descend Upon My Heart (Morecambe)
Spirit of God descend upon my heart
Wean it from earth thro’ all its pulses move
Stoop to my weakness mighty as Thou art
And make me love Thee as I ought to love
Hast Thou not bid us love Thee God and King
All Thine own soul heart and strength and mind
I see Thy cross there teach my heart to cling
O let me seek Thee and O let me find
Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love
One holy passion filling all my frame
The baptism of the heav’n descended dove
My heart an altar and Thy love the flame
Frederick Cook Atkinson | George Croly © Words: Public Domain