In religion—as in love—there is no enduring relationship without admiration.
In Awe of You
True belief begins with a Creator we can look up to
By Marcos Paseggi
In religion—as in love—there is no enduring relationship without admiration. Just for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a wife-to-be. You find your fiancé amusing, attractive, and talented. You are positive that sticking to him will substantially improve your prospects in life. People consider him “a good catch.”
Yet, imagine deep down that you despise him. Nobody knows it but you. It may be the condescending way he treats you. Or that he is conceited or snobbish. Or that he has all his priorities wrong. The cause is not important. But the fact is that you despise him. Even when you smile at him and call him “honey.” And there is nothing you can do about it.
Well, chances are your relationship is bound for failure.
Without admiration, love is a sham. You may go through the motions, do “the right thing,” but never reach that stage when love springs up naturally and forcefully.
In church terms, you are part of the faithful few who never miss a church service, or a meeting, or a program. But you are there out of fear, or a sheer sense of duty. You may not be better than a sizable chunk of Jesus’ contemporaries, who in their forced obedience misrepresented “the character of God,” and caused “the world to look upon Him as a tyrant.”
If we truly believe in a God whose utmost desire is “to make His children happy,” there must be a better way of relating to Him. And while there are various avenues, one way would be when we learn to admire the fruits of His workmanship (see Rom. 1:20).
Throughout history a sense of awe before what we cannot fully apprehend has often triggered great inventions, discoveries, and theories. Just think of Galileo or Newton. But without an overarching frame of reference, our best creative efforts, marred by our sin-tinted glasses, may very soon take us adrift from the Creator. We begin to worship pitiable “gods” of our own making.
Consider the ancient Greeks: In deep awe before phenomena they were not able to rationally explain, they created the most intricate universe of revenge-thirsty, lust-driven incestuous gods, a pathetic lookalike of mere human beings who pursue their own twisted ways.
Our worship loyalties are often misdirected and contradictory. Indeed, there is no wisdom in praising “the wisdom of Mother Nature.” And certainly no kindness in celebrating “the kindness of Mother Earth.” Awe in itself is as pointless as trying to quench our thirst by memorizing the properties of water. Without an underlying “metanarrative”—which for Seventh-day Adventists is the great controversy theme—we are bound to eventually conclude that our best efforts are nothing but “utter futility” and “pursuit of wind” (Eccl. 1:2, 14, Tanakh). And once again, we may end up misplacing our awe in fleeting fruits of our own hands.
The Wonder of It All
We live in a time when devotion tends to be too narrow. Our hearts jump at the last technological gadget, while we blindly run past the wonders of the natural world, the amazing workings of our bodies, and the mind-boggling vastness of the universe. Constantly surrounded by miraculous wonders, we resign ourselves to secondhand, lackluster experiences instead.
Have you ever read Matthew 6:29—“Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of [the lilies of the field]”—and thought Jesus was exaggerating a little? Have you ever thought of King Solomon as a wise judge and a clever statesman, while ignoring his description of trees, birds, creeping things, and fish (1 Kings 4:33)? Have you ever considered Ellen G. White’s famous statement—“ ‘God is love’ is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass”—just as a “nice” metaphor?
As “the Sea of Faith” steadily retreats to “the vast drear edges . . . of the world,” those who still dare to voice their trust in an Almighty Creator find themselves too often entangled in apologetics, to the detriment of a proactive approach to God’s workmanship. But as a joyous people who “look for new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13), we are called to reflect on the pristine state of the Creator’s creation and His ongoing care of the natural world as a way of announcing the restoration to come.
Worshipping the Creator
The last book of the Bible seems to zero in on the messages of the three angels (Rev. 14:6-12). Those messages are to be proclaimed by the Lord’s messengers, those “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11). But even those solemn last warnings are driven by a clear-cut call to “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Rev. 14:7).
This single injunction may be the most important in God’s final call. Because without a primal acknowldgement of a Creator, there is hardly any use in sharing the rest of the messages. Everything else—from the announcement of the judgment to the fall of Babylon to the command not to worship the beast—is mirrored in that first Creation week, when God made everything “very good” (Gen. 1:31). It is to this ideal we must often look back, and even more often point toward.
Reclaiming the Wonder
As we strive to reclaim our battered sense of awe, we may find that in God’s creation, big answers are often found in the simplest pleasures in life. God still draws us to Himself through “the sunshine and the rain,” “the hills and seas and plains.” He does talk to us through “lovely birds,” “delicately tinted flowers,” and “lofty trees.”
So, I invite you to go for a walk in the park, caress your favorite pet, play with a chubby baby, or work in your garden. You could also take some scenic pictures, prepare your favorite natural recipe, or stare at the sunset. As you do it, do not forget to admire the infinite wisdom of the One “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17, NIV), and who, very soon, according to His promise, will “make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
Then our awe will be eternal.
Marcos Paseggi is a pastor, translator, and author living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.