“When did you learn that Santa doesn’t exist?” This question was once asked in a meeting I attended, and after the typical, “What? Santa’s not real?” Four of the seven people said they never believed in Santa. I felt like an idiot when they explained what logical four year olds they were. How naïve had I been? The evidence was all there. No chimney, Santa’s handwriting was strangely familiar, and every year he apparently shopped for wrapping paper in the same place we did. Come on, Jason!
These feelings brought me back to a “magic trick” my dad did when I was a kid. He had a friend named Hiram, a ghost that lived in a handkerchief. Dad would place the handkerchief on a table, call on Hiram, and the handkerchief would rise in the middle. It was amazing! “Hiram, do it again! Do it again!! Do it again!!!” I would shout with glee.
A few years later my dad tried the same trick on my stepbrothers and sister. By now I had learned that “Hiram” was a bent wire sewn into the cloth, but my brothers and sister weren’t fooled. They pointed out the wire immediately! Once again I felt like an idiot. When I was their age, I believed in Hiram. How naïve was I to believe that a ghost lived in a handkerchief? And who ever heard of a ghost named Hiram? Come on, Jason!!
But here’s the deal. I’m not an idiot, and I wasn’t quite as naïve as I thought. I believed in Santa and Hiram because I believed in magic. I believed that that there were things in this world that defied explanation. I believed that there were things that were beyond my understanding. I believed in magic then, and (though I don’t call it magic anymore) I still do.
I don’t know if it’s a desire for control, a growing cynicism, or the busyness that crowds our life, but we have lost our appetite for wonder. We seem to prefer explanations to wonder. We explain the thunder and lightning rather than marvel at its incredible power and beauty. Miraculous stories are met with skepticism and disbelief, and we barely slow down enough to enjoy a sunset or a brilliant starry sky.
The problem with this loss is that wonder is at the center of worship. I may be overstating my case, but if there is no wonder in your faith, I seriously question if you really know God. Knowing God means having an interactive relationship with him, and I am not sure it is possible to have that kind of relationship without being struck with an overwhelming sense of wonder every once in a while.
God is incredible. He is greater than any of us could ever imagine. He is more just, more loving, more gracious, more – well – everything than we could ever understand. In Isaiah 55 God says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Let me ask you a question. What role does wonder play in your life and worship? How could you make more room for wonder in your day today?