Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5
“A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, Do it again; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough… It is possible that God says every morning, Do it again, to the sun; and every evening, Do it again, to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” –G. K. Chesterton
My daughter has a friend who screams with excitement every time she walks across campus on moonlit nights. Every single time she spies the moon she exclaims, “Can you BELIEVE how beautiful the moon is? Look at how perfect it is and how perfectly it shines. Wow! It’s gorgeous.” Her friends lovingly poked fun at her, but it never seems to lessen her awe of creation, or of the Creator. She has learned the priceless lesson of maintaining her sense of wonder.
As a child I was unendingly fascinated by the world around me. I took time to study the flowers, comparing the fragile petals of a daffodil with the hearty petals of a magnolia bloom. I spent hours discovering how to blow all the “fuzz” off a dandelion in one breath. I lay in my yard with friends and watched the clouds meander by in all their uniqueness. I gloried in the smell of fresh-cut grass and honeysuckles. I would spend days studying the construction of a leaf or watching a grasshopper making his way around my sidewalk. I had no worries about this activity or that meeting. The only agenda I had was to watch a bird fly.
But somewhere along the way, as Chesterton said, “I have sinned and grown old.” I got lost in my own head, in my own life, in deadlines and agendas and expectations. I got busy. And as my life gets overfilled, I get distracted and lose my focus. I forget Paul’s words in Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” When I get overcome with myself, when I’m honed in on the minutiae of my “to do” list, I become easily angered when plans get derailed, I covet those who seem to have time to relax, my patience wears thin and I forget. I get so busy looking ahead to the next task, I forget to take time to look around at those beautiful gifts right in front of me.
Yet God, being rich in mercy, brought me back to wonder.
I’ve had a character building year. The Lord has entrusted me with a new job that required much more than I know I’m capable of; lots of responsibility, leading, administrating, organizing. I confess I got bogged down in the non-essentials. I found myself knee-deep in schedules and agendas and budgets and “to do” lists and trying to make sure everyone’s needs were met. Like Martha, I got bogged down in the “many things” and forgot there’s really only One thing necessary.
One afternoon in early spring, a normal, busy afternoon, I found myself sitting at my kitchen table typing up a lecture. I was focused on my computer screen, intensely pondering what needed to be done, and the Lord whispered, “Look up.” So I did. There on my back porch staring at me through the window was a cardinal. A beautiful red cardinal with a bright orange beak framed by a black mask. He hopped around blissfully on my porch, enjoying the sunlight and the gentle wind. For a long while, we stared at one another. And the King whispered, “Michele, consider the birds. They don’t worry or toil about the details, and I meet their every need. Seek me first. I’ll take care of everything else.”
I stopped what I was doing and stepped outside. I took a deep breath and smelled the earth and the hint of flowers emerging. I felt the wind gently glide across my face, brushing my hair, tickling my ears. I watched the leaves sway on the giant oak that keeps my home shaded and cool in the heat of summer. I stood in the sunbeams that weave their way to and fro on my porch. I looked up at the deep blue sky and caught a glimpse of a cloud in the shape of a rabbit hopping across the tops of the trees. And I remembered the One who fashioned this beauty, this intricate web of creation, if He can design the moon and stars and sun and clouds, He can certainly give me all that I need—and even more.
As I stood on my porch, in awe of my Abba’s intentionality, I realized that wonder, true wonder, can only lead to one thing: Gratitude. And a grateful heart is a heart anchored in freedom. The freedom that can only come by knowing the One who is true. When I wonder at the grace that saved a wretch like me, I can’t help but praise Him.
So if you, like me, find yourself bogged down in the quicksand of the non-essentials. Take a step outside and take a good look around. Let a roly-poly crawl up your arm. Watch a blue bird soar effortlessly through the sky. Lay on the grass and look up. Think about the One who made heaven and earth and remember, He is the One who rescued your soul. Keep that fierce and free spirit of a child and stand in wonder.