How fleeting is our sense of wonder.
I remember a biology class in middle school in which the culminating experience was to be the dissection of a frog. We built up to the experience – looking at diagrams, examining the instruments we would use, and making plans for the day. And when that frog was finally stretched out in the little tray in front of us, we had a sense of amazement. It was still amazement when we actually cut it open and got to see first hand everything we had seen pictures of in books.
And then it wasn’t.
After 15 or 20 minutes of digging around inside, most every middle schooler was ready for something else. Because now we had seen it. Experienced it. Onto the next thing. How fleeting is our sense of wonder.
Such is life. How amazing it is that something can arrest our attention, and then after only a couple of hours, we are onto whatever is next. So we move from thing to thing, temporarily dazzled by brilliance, only to have our hearts start to atrophy.
You can blame all kinds of things for this. Short attention spans brought on by social media, graphic video games and movies, ADHD – whatever the cause, we have the tendency to quickly move from wonder to boredom. Such is life, and therefore, such is the case with our faith.
Ironically, our wonder tends to decrease the more we study. The most we dissect. The more we parse. Until our Bible reading, our worship, and our ultimately our faith ceases to be dripping with life and more and more like an autopsy. This ought not to be.
Solomon knew something of the atrophy of the heart. Here was a man who, more than any one before or any since, was surrounded by, well, everything. Every bit of learning. Every bit of pleasure. Every bit of sophistication. Every bit of everything. He was educated in all the ways of the world, and yet despite this extensive knowledge of everything under the sun, he found himself in a kind of malaise where nothing held wonder for him any more. What began as excitement turned sour time and time again.
On the subject of education and study, Solomon himself said, “There is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).
What is the answer here? How do we rekindle the wonder when faith has become like an autopsy? I don’t believe the answer lies in seeking some new experience. There is danger here – always chasing after some emotional encounter. No – that’s not it.
A better approach might be to consider what those things are in our lives that tend to crowd out our sense of wonder. What are those things that are dulling our senses so that wonder no longer had any place?
Perhaps wonder is found in an ironic place. It’s found not in the noise of the culture, not at the end of a glitzy experience, but is found in the quiet. In the solitude. In the meditation on timeless truths. This is where the true pursuit of wonder leads us – it leads us into the continual calling to mind the truths of God from His Word. It leads us into the practice of the presence of God whereby we are consciously choosing to reflect on the fact that God is constantly with us and for us. It leads us into the common moments which are filled with grace and beauty if we are aware enough to acknowledge them.
Let us go there, friends. Let us make it our practice. And by God’s grace, let us find the wonder that so easily eludes us.