Grow by recapturing your awe

“Spiritual growth is about recapturing your awe.”

What is something that every person does, that’s not bound by family, culture, or geography? Paul David Tripp says it is feel awe.

And looking at what stirs awe in each of our hearts is the theme of his newest book, Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do.

Awe by Paul David Tripp

Here’s the breakdown of what Tripp says about awe:

  1. Awe is everyone’s lifelong pursuit.
  2. God created an awesome world.
  3. God created you with an awe capacity.
  4. Where you look for awe will shape the direction of your life.
  5. Awe stimulates the greatest joys and deepest sorrows in us all.
  6. Misplaced awe keeps us perennially dissatisfied.
  7. Every created awe is meant to point you to the Creator.
  8. Awesome stuff never satisfies.

Tripp continues by showing how we often are in awe of the wrong things (ministry, materialism, parenting, work, etc.). He calls this is our core spiritual disease.

He says we too easily become “awe amnesiacs,” forgetting that God is the source of our awe and instead focusing on these other things, even good things, God-created things.

And when we are more in awe of other things than we are in awe of God? It gets ugly.

“We preach and teach love, but we aren’t examples of love. Why does all this happen? The answer is simple, but it will sting you. It happens because we are full of ourselves. We have replaced awe of God with awe of self, and the harvest is not pretty.

To become more aware of our awe-problem, Tripp proposes five questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Is God good?
  2. Will God do what he promised?
  3. Is God in control?
  4. Does God have the needed power?
  5. Does God care about me?

How we answer those questions determines the amount of hope—and awe—that we have of God.

What brings us back to awe of God? The grace of God.

You pick up this main point early in the book—be in awe of God. I admit the reading grows laborious after awhile—Tripp believes in excessive repetition, giving you example after example of the same thing, rewording the same points in slightly different ways over and over. Sometimes I like that; sometimes I don’t.

But is this book worth reading anyway? Definitely.

More quotes from Awe. . . .

“If awesome things in creation become your god, the God who created those things will not own your awe. Horizontal awe is meant to do one thing: stimulate vertical awe.”

~ * ~ * ~

If grace does not transform my motivation, it will not alter my living.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Your life is simply not a list of priorities but rather the coming together of three inescapable dimensions of calling. You are called to relationships, you are called to work, and you are called to God. Each of these is a significant expression of how God calls every one of us to live.”

~ * ~ * ~

Awe is a longing. Perhaps that doesn’t seem too thunderous to you, but it is. The capacity for awe that God has given us fundamentally explains the endless variety of human dissatisfactions.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Whether we know it or not, the awe of every human being—that desire to be amazed, blown away, moved, and satisfied—is actually a universal craving to see God face-to-face.”

* * *

What has prompted your awe of God this year? Please share in the comments.

My thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book

10 thoughts on “Grow by recapturing your awe

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    It’s hard to feel awe, or anything right now; the past twelve hours reached a nadir of pain and dread. I can only wave a hand at God and say, “Dude…please just keep me going.”

    But looking back, the awe is that He HAS kept me going. I can recognize now that my reserves of courage, strength, and optimism ran out months ago, and what’s supported me has been His expectation that I bear witness to the blessings in my life…the blessings that I have to reassemble every day, and put into a coherent space, contextual to my life as it is today.

    I guess the awe is this…that when anyone else would say, “Rest…you’ve done enough, and you have a right to anger and resentment”, God trusts me to keep the faith, and to write it through. He’s given me much, and it’s pretty darn awesome that even though I’m a wreck, He still sees the potential to EXPECT much.

    I hope this makes sense. I’m pretty shaky, and trying to think it through is hard.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know you must have a huge supply of awe built up to keep you going at this stage, Andrew. And I love that you still can say that the awe is that he has kept you going. Wow. That makes me take pause and worship him now for how you still have that attitude! I’m not sure I would at all. 🙁 Thank you for your faithfulness in bearing witness to the blessings. That has blessed me over and over and over.

  2. Stuart

    C. S. Lewis wrote at length about awe and wonder which might come as a “Surprise!” to many who have only been exposed to his well-known apologetic writings 🙂

    “Into the region of awe, in deepest solitude there is a right road out of the self, a commerce with … the Naked Other, imageless (though our imagination salutes it with a hundred images), unknown, undefined, desired.”
    — “Surprised by Joy”

    “How easily we forget that the world is big with God … all ground is holy and every bush is a Burning Bush … here is the holy ground, the Bush is burning now.”
    — “Letters to Malcolm”

    And a final one from my favorite scene in my favorite book of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, when Aslan reveals himself to Shasta:

    “ ‘Who are you?’ asked Shasta. ‘Myself,’ said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook … Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too … A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun … He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.”
    — “The Horse and His Boy”

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Beautiful collection of Lewis’s words, Stuart. It’s been years since I’ve read Surprised by Joy, and I’ve never read Letters to Malcolm but that quote really speaks to me “the Bush is burning now.” Yes. May we have eyes to continue noticing where that light is coming from.

      Now Narnia is a little more my territory. 🙂 Love this: “No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.” What an apt description right there of awe.

      As I was reading this book, I kept thinking that “awe” and “worship” could have been used interchangeably, but it seems we’ve contaminated the word “worship” with too much baggage the past few years, so “awe” brings a needed freshness to the reality of it. Awe is worship stripped down to its basics. It’s pure.

      And for a musical reference (because that’s what we do, right?), in the words of TobyMac:
      “Empty never felt so full /
      This is what love feels like”

      It’s easier to feel the fullness of awe when we’re emptied out already to receive it. And in that fullness we know Love.

      Hope you and your family will continue to be blessed in 2016! I still miss our collaboration of words and thoughts and lyrics. You’re one of a kind at that.

      1. Stuart

        … it seems we’ve contaminated the word “worship” with too much baggage the past few years …

        I think the church will forever struggle with putting stakes down on what is “acceptable”, “real”, “genuine”, “authentic”, “meaningful”, “powerful”, (fill in the adjective du jour) WORSHIP. And inevitably those stakes will be challenged and repositioned, rinse and repeat.

        It strikes me that those discussions are usually very ME-focused, but “awe” turns that upside-down most wonderfully, doesn’t it?!

        Is it fair to say it wouldn’t make much sense to dwell incessantly on Moses and his bare feet and his reactions when THAT BUSH IS BURNING RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF US, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT! and the LORD is declaring I AM WHO I AM?! (Exodus 3)

        Ditto when John falls as though dead before the glorified Christ as he declares “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18) The power clearly resides in the Christ and not in the manner and timing of John’s falling or his attire and demeanor, or maybe I’ve just missed the point.

        And finally returning to Narnia (because that’s what we do, right?) and the description of its creation in “The Magician’s Nephew”:

        “A voice had begun to sing … it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it … the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn’t come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leaped out … The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.”

        And then Lewis captures how awe leads to worship which is to be transformative with this most simple of responses from the group’s “everyman”:

        “Glory be!” said the Cabby. “I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.”

        May we clearly see and revel in the “things like this” which are all around us …

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          “It strikes me that those discussions are usually very ME-focused, but “awe” turns that upside-down most wonderfully, doesn’t it?!”

          Isn’t that the case with most all of our disagreements? Too much of us; not enough of Christ. But when we flip that view, our differences aren’t as noticable.

          Laughing at the imagery of focusing on Moses’s feet instead of the burning bush—I’m guessing he could have used a good pedicure. 😉

          Narnia AND Revelation—both are go-to subjects. {smile} When the brilliance of what is before us is greater than what is behind us, we can’t help but stand amazed and look ahead. Thinking about your hikes of late and how you must be in awe much of the time as you walk through. I’m glad there are “things like this” always shimmering right underneath the surface if we’ll scratch through the tiniest bit to see what is (Who is!) there.

          1. Stuart

            “Thinking about your hikes of late and how you must be in awe much of the time as you walk through.”

            That is absolutely one of the primary reasons I am drawn to it. Although I wouldn’t have thought of if this way beforehand, it is profound (and I now realize it is necessary) to be reminded how inadequate I am and how little control I have. I routinely deceive myself on both counts throughout life’s normal regimen.

  3. Jean Wise

    good reading this – sounds like a book I would like – plus interesting to read the other comments too. I find the practice of awe reminds me how little I am in the presence of an incomprehensible almighty powerful God who is everything yet knows me as his child. It is pure worship and an element missing from many of our worship services today.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It’s funny that I just typed in reply to Stuart’s comment that awe has a purity to it, and then I read here in your comment that “it is pure worship.” So it must be true indeed! 🙂

      One thing I’ve loved about the church I worship with now each week is that it really brings in that sense of awe, that yes, can be all too lacking in many places. 🙁 When we lose our sense of awe even among believers gathered together, the Spirit must grieve. May it not be so among us individually even when we’re in a collective crowd that has lost its awe. The Lord is always amazing if we’ll just pay attention. Looking forward to growing more in awe of him this year as we live and move and have our being in him in 2016!


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