Fanning the Flames of AWE (Chris Francis)
This past Sunday we talked about the importance of Awe — how there is a difference between believing in the truths about Jesus and having an awe over those glorious truths. Belief alone — in the sens of an intellectual agreement — does not lead to worship or life change or freedom. Awe does.
That was the purpose of the sermon on Sunday as we looked at 3 Stories of Awe.
But I wanted to write a follow-up about how we can Fan the Flames of Awe in our hearts.
Of course only the Holy Spirit can only spark that flame, but we are also called to fan those flames. So below are some thoughts:
The first are what have been traditionally called….
- Reading the Bible to see God At Work — The bible is not primarily a moral guide. It is not primarily a book of wise counsel. The bible is primarily the grand story of humanity in desperate need of a Savior and Redeemer, and how God has been acting as that Savior and Redeemer in a huge huge way since the beginning of time. When we read the bible in order to see God at work, rather than to just get a moral nugget, then our hearts are stirred with awe and it leads us to worship him. And out of worship will flow morality…..but morality without worship is simply religiosity.
- God-Centered Prayer — There is a self-centered way to pray, where I am focused on my need for security, my need for comfort, my need for justice….and there is a God-centered way to pray, where I am focused on the Bigness of God and all that he has already secured for me in Christ. God-centered praying does not deny reality or pretend like our needs and desires do not exist, but it does emphasize God’s faithfulness and grace and sovereignty way more.
- Fasting — Fasting from food, fasting from tv, fasting from facebook. Fasting is a way of saying “Shhhh….” to the physical and psychological longings that we feel. And it amplifies the spiritual longings that we should feel — the longings to know Jesus more and to see him do what we are unable to do in our own strength.
- Being in Church Community — If we are not connected to the ups and downs of a church community, we will miss out on a big way that God reveals himself to us. We talked about this at the end of the sermon, so I won’t go into detail here.
- Singing Songs — Singing songs is a spiritual discipline that sometimes flows out of awe, but often we do it in order to regain our awe. Like many of you, I don’t always like to sing in the beginning of a church service. But I need to. I need to lay aside my anxieties, my worries, and sing, and it may feel like discipline, but a discipline that leads to a renewing of my awe.
Then there are other things that we can do to stir our hearts that may work for one person but don’t necessarily do it for others. I’ll list a few of mind as well as some other peoples’.
Taking a Walk in a Cemetery
Sounds strange, I know. But when I’m in a cemetery, and looking at all the tombstones, I’m reminded of how short my life is, regardless of how much I succeed or fail. It reminds me of how God has given breath to all those lives, and how the purpose of giving breath to those lives has been to praise and honor him with their lives.
It reminds me of how nobody is going to talk about me for too long after I’m gone, and how I may go at any minute (because a good many of those tombstones have birth and death dates less than years apart) and so my primary pursuit should be to honor the one who is sovereign over all those lives and deaths.
Enjoying our Big & Beautiful Creation
Swimming in the ocean (especially at sun-down when most other people are gone) or standing at the top of the mountain helps to remind me of the grandeur of God’s great sovereignty over this world, and how futile it is to try to control things.
Remembering My Story
Thinking back over my life and about how God has orchestrated it, forgiven me and transformed me, blessed me when I least deserved it reminds of how much my life is in His hands.
Reading about the lives of men & women who have been rescued from sin & shame and then used for God’s glory on this broken Earth fuels my awe.
For some people, studying the human body or astronomy or biology points to God’s infinite Creative power.
There are many other things that might stir our affections for Jesus Christ, but the point is that we should intentionally work those things into our schedules. Because our Awe of Jesus is so important that we must protect and guard it.