The expression of the little girl in this photo is so delightful! It reminds us that children still have the capacity to be overcome with awe and wonder and excitement, in a way that us cynical and jaded adults seldom experience.
In the modern world where so many mysteries of science and biology have been discovered, where so many disasters and disappointments happen routinely, and where our lives are so busy, it is rare to feel awe.
Awesome has become such an overused adjective that the word ‘awe’ hardly means anything to us — certainly not the humbling sense of tininess in the face of great beauty or power that it used to mean. Awesome used to describe something that brought us to our knees in worship, that stopped our mouths in an ‘O’ of wonder, that reminded us of our creatureliness and frailty.
Modern society doesn’t want to be reminded of those things. We think we are invincible, powerful and understand pretty much everything — certainly how to live successfully. (How is that working out for us?)
But every now and then one of us will stand in the bush on a dark night and look up into the vastness of space and be filled with wonderment. Or we will experience nature at its most powerful – a volcano, a tsunami, an earthquake – and be reminded again that our lives are a vapour, snuffed out as easily as a candle flame. We might be afloat on the ocean with nothing around us but water to the horizon, and be filled with a quiet fear of a bigness that we can’t quite fathom. Or we may look down a microscope at the teeming life in a single drop of water and realise there are worlds within worlds that we hardly know.
I believe that sense of awe and wonderment are really important to maintain a proper sense of perspective in life; and to keep human’s natural tendency towards self-satisfaction and pride in check. I believe that God made the universe and nature in all its intricate beauty and incredible variety to point us beyond what we can see, to His invisible Self.
As the Bible says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
That first Christmas, just over 2000 years ago, the most awesome, mind-boggling, wonder-filled thing occurred: the God who made the universe (the part which we can observe is currently estimated to be 93 billion light-years in diameter!) and the fire-ball that is our sun, and the 963 000 (!) different types of insects, and every unique human being etc. etc. , became a powerless, tiny, vulnerable human baby.
He entered His creation as a man in order to save humankind from the mess they had made with the free will He had given them. He didn’t need us in heaven — He didn’t need us at all — but He loved us so much that He came that first Christmas, grew, showed us how we should live, taught us, did miracles, and then died at our hands to take away all our sin.
If that doesn’t fill you with awe and drive you to your knees in worship, then consider what followed. He rose from the dead after three days and walked and talked with over 500 people for 40 days before returning to heaven – and promising to return again to make all things right at the end of time.
He promised that we too can overcome sin and death by simply believing in Him and what He did on the cross to atone (pay for) our sin. Just like that we get to conquer death by rising again in eternal bodies and we get to live forever in a place without pain or tears or illness or loss.