The Daily Work of Wonder

Originally published at A Deeper Story.

photo credit: Joris_Louwes via photopin cc
photo credit: Joris_Louwes via photopin cc

“The world of dew
is the world of dew
And yet, and yet –”
~ Issa

I confess that most days, my heart is like a bratty 15-year old: arms crossed, chin raised, daring you to impress me.

I was born at the far edge of the age-group they call Generation Me…narcissistic and entitled and easily bored. I bristle at this language. I am not like that, I think. But it I’m honest, I’ll tell you that I wake up thinking about myself. I choose my acts of love or service or kindness mostly based on how much they will rock the equilibrium of my personal comfort. I am fuzzy on the line between self-care and self-absorbed.

Once I went to Bible college, and I aced my pop quiz on the Gospels and my paper on evangelicalism and my final on Theology. I’ve read the Bible, beginning and then back again. In my 29 years, I have sat through 1500 sermons – give or take – so don’t think you can tell an anecdote I haven’t heard, a statistic I don’t know.

That scripture you’re reading aloud from the podium? I’ve heard it a hundred times. Memorized it in AWANA Sparks. Earned myself a ruby-red jewel for my plastic, pinned-on crown. So I’m gonna need you to spin it new, get into the Greek of it, the etymology, the history. Surprise me with your insight.

I dare you to impress me.

We changes jobs frequently, apparently – people in this generation. That’s what the sociologists say. They say we have too great of expectations, little patience for anything that seems to lack meaning. And I haven’t changed jobs all that much, but I have been nomadic in my spirituality. I have wandered aimlessly from church to church to church, looking for something that I cannot name. Leaving when it’s not there.

I keep waiting for that one big thing that will take my breath away. That will leave me standing rooted to the spot, looking up.

In the box office, I watch movies with 150-million-dollar budgets and critique the special effects. In worship services, the music circles higher and louder, and the fog machine blasts and the lights change color, and I confuse entertainment with awe.

I have believed the lie that wonder is something that is given to me by someone else. That it is fire and flurry, the crashing of might and might, the explosion of flame. Dazzle and daring and the fluorescent spectacular.

But the truth is that none of this is wonder. Not really. There is nothing passive about true wonder. It is not dependent on bigness or limited by smallness; it is not the response to entertainment or to spectacle.

Wonder is a choice. It comes only when I choose to stay.

It’s that thing that happens when doubt and astonishment and mystery converge. It happens when I stand in one place long enough. When I stare out at the broken cattails or the winter-bare branches or a dew drop until it stops being about me. Starts being about the branch. And then about more than the branch. And then about God.

And it doesn’t always feel like epiphany or the climax of a hit movie. Sometimes it comes and goes so quickly that you almost can’t believe that it was there.

But in that moment, something in your heart reaches towards God. And for a small span of space, you believe Him to be all he says he is, and you know it is enough…and this is the true heart of worship.

And all these years, my angsty, selffocused heart has been making the wrong statement.

It’s not I dare you to impress me. Rather, it’s I will dare to be impressed. 

There is work to all this wonder. I can choose to be moved, even when it does not feel holy or wild or amazing. I can decide to stay long enough to see the whole thing ignite like a bush burning. Because God is here: in this tiny church, this broken family, this song, this wintering state…this moment.

The ground spreads wide and uneven beneath me, and all of it is holy.

The dew drop is suspended at the edge of the railing. Wonder is the choice to look closer and closer. To stay until the dew becomes a universe, and your heart lurches when you recognize the holy center: the wild love of God.

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