A small self

Psalm 145:1-5

In the last twenty years or so, researchers have taken an interest in studying the psychology of awe. Of course, we’ve known the experience and have reflected on it for generations. But only recently has scholarship given it more attention.

Why do we experience awe? What kinds of awe experiences are there? What personality, economic or cultural aspects influence our sense of awe? And what are the effects of being in awe? These are all questions we’re discovering answers to.

When you read through studies of awe, it’s common to find references to the “small self.” This is one of the accompanying feelings of awe. Let’s say you’re standing over the edge of the Grand Canyon. You can’t help but feel little, small or even insignificant. But it isn’t a downer. It’s actually uplifting to be, as one songwriter put it, “standing on the edge of forever.”

Your small self doesn’t need something as vast as the Grand Canyon to come alive. You could hear a piece of music that inspires you or connects you to the reality of God. There are so many examples. Many I hope you’ve experienced.

To be sure, anyone can experience awe. It may very well be a form of prevenient grace God uses to get our attention. I’m convinced, though, Christians should have a strong bent toward awe. Remember what the psalmist asked? What are humans that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them (Psalm 8:4)? That’s a small self reveling in a big God’s love.

And let’s ensure we’re passing that to our children and young people and future generations of believers. You know I talk to a lot of them. I get an overriding sense that what we’ve given them are outdated rules and ways of doing church. If awe is there, it’s been lost on a lot of people. Maybe we haven’t been as awestruck as we think.

You can’t force awe. You don’t need to. Instead, take time today to look around or listen for the reality of God’s presence with and around you. Let your small self be uplifted and inspired.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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