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Don't Let Me Lose the Wonder
January 12, 2009
I kind of feel like I should be screaming in joy and wonder right now. Like I should just scream out “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M DOING THIS! THIS IS AMAZING! THIS IS AWESOME! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?!”Just a few short hours ago I was in my home town of Toronto, on the shores of Lake Ontario. And now I am 1,000 miles to the south, rapidly approaching the Gulf of Mexico. Just moments ago I was sitting on the ground, firmly planted on terra firma. And now I’m several miles in the air. Ten minutes ago we were sitting still; now the aircraft I am traveling in is moving so fast that if I were to stick my head out the window and scream (not something I plan to do) my voice would be traveling only slightly faster than the plane. It’s incredible. If I weren’t here experiencing it now, I might be tempted not to believe that it was possible.
And yet I’m rather blase about the whole thing. I’ve done it before so many times. Already this is my second flight of the day. For the first flight I boarded the plane, quickly noted that the person seated beside me had his iPod fixed firmly in his ears and seemed to be in no mood for conversation, so promptly opened a book on the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. That took me part of the way to Atlanta, perhaps until I was over Pennsylvania or Virginia; when that book was finished I packed it away and continued to read a biography of John Bunyan, picking up with his writing of Pilgrim’s Progress. By the time we landed I was reading about The Holy War and by the time we finally taxied to our gate and shuffled off, I had come to his death. All that time I had been hurtling through the sky at 550 miles per hour and 6 miles up. But I scarcely noticed; I barely thought about it. It just was. I do it all the time.
I remember the first time I flew, or the first time I flew as a person old enough to remember doing it. The very fact that I remember it so vividly displays how important it was to me. My whole family was taking a long flight from Toronto, Canada to London, England. Everything was new and exciting. I remember the miniature cans our soft drinks came in; the meal we ate mid-flight, the movie that played on the screens ahead of us and the feeling in the pit of my stomach as the plane rose and fell with the turbulence. I remember that as the British Airways Boeing 747 left the ground, a poem came to my mind—a poem my father had once shown me.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, —and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of —Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
It was so new and fresh. It was so exciting. Like the poet, I was amazed at the wonder of it all.
That was then. This is now. Now I barely think about flying except to register how boring and routine it has become and to mutter a complaint when my flight is delayed. Never mind that I’ll soon by moving 550 miles per hour 6 miles above the earth. No, never mind that at all. What’s important is that my flight is going to be fifteen minutes late. Horrors!
Life has a way of becoming routine, a way of losing its wonder. A few days ago I went out with some friends and as we sat and talked my friend Nick told me how beautiful and how smart my little girl is. And he’s right—she’s both of those things and more. I’m not sure, though, when I had last stopped to think about it. After all, I see her every day. Several months ago, my small group paused one evening to encourage my wife with some of the evidences of God’s grace they see in her life. Though I love her dearly, I was surprised at how long it had been since I had considered many of these evidences of God’s work in her. I guess I’d somehow lost the wonder.
And then there’s my faith. I know the kind of man I am. I know the lusts and the pride in my heart, the anger, the sarcasm the ungodliness. I know who I am and I know what I deserve. But. But God. But God in his goodness set me apart and gave me a gift—a wondrous gift greater than any other. He gave me what he had; he gave me what I needed; he gave me his Son; he gave me Himself. And yet sometimes it’s just like rocketing through the air with my nose buried in a book. It’s mundane; it’s expected; it’s old; it’s just the way it has been for so long that I scarcely remember (or perhaps scarcely care to remember) what it was like before.
But oh, how I long for those moments when God gives me that glimpse of just where he has taken me and what he has given me. How I long to know and to believe, to experience afresh, to rejoice in my heart, to marvel, to appreciate, to love, to feel.
Please, don’t let me lose the wonder of who you are. Don’t let me lose the wonder of what you’ve done. Please, don’t let me lose the wonder.