Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Replacing Awful with AWE

The brand spanking new baby church of the New Testament discovered and practiced AWE. The book of Acts chapter 2 verse 43 says, "...and everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles...". I've often tried to imagine what this might have looked like but, almost as often, I fall back into seeing it in the context of the 21st century church...through buildings, worship services, and the like. I'm certainly not opposed to our buildings and services creating "awe", but I just don't think this passage is referring to those things.

Almost every awe-struck act Jesus demonstrated in the Gospels was simply in the dust and dirt of the paths He walked. It seems to me that the apostles immediately sought to replicate this ordinary pattern in order to introduce the extraordinary.

When Jesus said, "The poor have the gospel preached to them.." it was in the surroundings of the harsh realities of, well...the poor! (Matthew 11:5). In the frustrating middle of disabilities, disease, death, and poverty Jesus introduced the AWE of His Kingdom. This is what the apostles pursued and I am convinced we too must be in full pursuit of the rainbow of AWE in the middle of our brown paper bag bland world.

We're living in a time of awful events and awful behavior by an awful lot of people! There's no time like the present to introduce AWE as a light in the dark tunnel of awful. Let's practice AWE, let's plan AWE, let's prepare AWE, and let's get busy with AWE.

Jennifer Stellar, PhD, an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto says, "People feeling awe focus more of their attention outward and value others more in social interactions." She defines awe as the emotion we feel in response to something vast that defies our existing frame of reference. She has also studied how AWE can affect our immune system in positive ways. Simply stated, I think it has to do with firing up our child-like wonder as we learn to expect and practice AWE instead of being awful.

Here's how we can practice AWE:
*Do kind things. Let me slow it down a bit....Do...Kind...Things! Seeing someone react to kindness, directly or indirectly is awe-inspiring. Be fully engaged in DOING KIND THINGS DAILY.
*Look away from our phones and into the eyes of everyone we see. Smile randomly at random strangers. SEE people with the aim of pure love and say "hi" to everyone...spooky, I know.
*When we are asked to pray for someone, do it right on the spot. Not with showy loud expression, but with authentic connection to that person.
*Expect spiritual activity in and around every bland activity and thing you are doing. Imagine how different life today would be if Moses had not seen a "burning bush" in the middle of his day job shepherding sheep. (BTW, he called it a "marvelous sight" Exodus 3:3)

Not long ago, I had a dream about someone in a completely random way. The next morning I contacted that person to tell him how beautiful it was to see him in my dreams. Their response was, "That's awesome!" It was simple and free! And the result built AWE into both of us.

Get up and go do some AWE right now!

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