Wednesday, July 25, 2012

May God Own Our Awe

Who owns your awe? In which direction does it usually flow? Vertically? Or horizontally?

I am very thankful for the writing ministry of Ray Ortlund, Jr. I’ve blogged quite a bit recently about his Proverbs commentary (published by Crossway). He wrote another excellent commentary in the same series on the book of Isaiah. The following quote from that book, when I first read it, led me to repent of my idolatry of (misdirected) awe and praise my creative Creator. He was commenting on Isaiah 40:12-18.
When God created everything, he needed nothing. All the ideas, all the genius, were his alone. God imagined every tropical fish. He established every function of gravity. He shaped galaxies as irregular, spiral, and elliptical. He came up with it all, by himself alone, out of his own super-intelligence. In Babylonian religion the creator god Marduk had to consult with “Ea, the all wise.” The pagan gods worked by committee. God the Creator needs no one else, including you and me.
Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 244.

“All the ideas…were his alone.” We humans are often in awe of those who invent and create. And yet we yawn with blindness and deafness to God’s cosmic show-and-tell (Ps. 19:1-6). New technology, “cutting edge” artistic expression, or a unique or surprisingly helpful invention elicits our can’t-wait-to-tell-someone excitement. Our awe can be pretty deep and our praise pretty high for these human creators (if you're not tracking yet, think Apple products). 

Our inflated opinions aside, so-called new genres are always influenced by “old” genres (even the ones reacting against “old” genres), and new inventions are always dependent on old materials and old inventions. There’s nothing new under the sun.

As for the creators themselves, their artistic and technological uniqueness is typically limited to a pretty narrow bandwidth. I doubt Sufjan Stevens will ever pitch winning new programming to Apple. Flannery O’Connor, to my knowledge, never applied for a patent. I doubt any top chefs in the world of cutting edge culinary creativity sit at Boeing’s brainstorming tables. Those most creatively prodigious and productive in our world invariably do so within a relatively small niche. 

Not God. His bandwidth of expertise and creative genius knows no bounds. He is not only supreme in every niche, he created every niche!

He is also not dependent on any prior technology. When he got started, there was nothing new, not even the sun. He is the only one who had no gurus. No teachers. No mentors or no consultants. None to whom he looked up. He had no models that influenced or shaped his artistic vision. He was not even self-taught, because there was no need to grow and develop. He was and is and always will be perfectly and gloriously creative. 
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult, and who made him understand?
Who taught him the [right way to do things], and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?
How often are we wowed by the wonder and weight of the God of Isaiah 40:12-14? How often are we more impressed by Hollywood’s special effects and virtual reality? How often are we more interested in Silicon Valley’s slick wares, both hard and soft? Has familiarity with Reality bred indifference?

Elephants and strawberries, Redwoods and blowfish, glaciers and geysers, sand and oxygen, skin and honeycombs, carrots and meteors, quicksand and saltwater, stalagmites and catfish, earthworms and tree sap, leaves and chameleons, gravity and helium, T-Rexes and tree frogs, ovaries and osmosis, snow and starfish, pineapples and fire ants, pythons and mitochondria, hurricanes and hair, eye balls and volcanoes, chlorophyll and the Northern Lights, canyons and oases, moose and mice, pinecones and Pluto, camels and coral, were not products of a brainstorming session with the angels. God alone is mind-blowingly creative in every conceivable category. 

While we can and most certainly should glorify and (oh so dimly) reflect our Creator’s creativity with industrious humility and joyful curiosity, let's admit it, we ultimately are not creative. Even at our best, we are re-arrangers…shufflers…followers…wanna be’s…posers. We need to get over ourselves and stop getting over God (how many times have you been impressed by a photo or painting of some created thing and blindly walked by the real thing!). Familiarity has bred indifference. 

Or maybe…we’re not familiar enough. When was the last time you really tasted and savored a banana or a carrot? Seriously. Go try it. Slow down and really try it. When was the last time the magical reality, the “isness” of water blew your mind? This summer, at some point when you find yourself in a body of water, just stop and think about the fact that you are FLOATING in this crazy LIQUID! God made water! Water!

Why is it that we worship and serve the creation’s “creators” and the creators creations?

Are we even aware of this unrighteous idolatry of awe? We give fawning and emotionally-charged praise to the creativity of created creators. And all we often have left is patronizingly token praise and deadly dutiful lip-service for the Creator of creators. 

Don’t you want to wake up from this? Don’t you want to flee the blinding effect of the Times Square over-stimulation of this world? Don’t you want to get out beyond the lights, so to speak, and see the glory of the stars?

This summer, slow down and ponder the universe and the body in which you live. All of it was created for a reason. Not so you could worship and serve created things, but so you would worship and serve the Creator, who is blessed forever (Rom. 1:25).

Pray for the revival of your senses and your heart, and then go walk through this wild, magical world with your mind and heart awake. Get blown away by the wondrous God who works wonders. Let’s repent of our idolatry of awe and get our wow back where it belongs.

Postscript: The picture was not staged. It was spontaneous (and Beth caught it). You can see why.

No comments:

Post a Comment