Has prayer and Bible reading become boring and uninspiring?
Has the call to pursue Jesus become dry and exhausting?
I picked up “Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do” at a time when I was feeling spiritually parched. I carried out tasks on auto pilot, doing many things for God, but struggling to derive any joy from him. On the surface, I had the Christian routine down pat, only to feel cold and lifeless on the inside. Inevitably, many months of joyless service led to exhaustion and bitterness. What’s the point of it all?
According to Paul Tripp, “humans are hardwired for awe”, which is the feeling of reverential respect, mixed with fear or wonder. Our hearts are constantly captivated by someone or something, because that’s how God created us. This book helped me to see that I was no longer captivated by God because I was struggling with “awe amnesia”, which according to Tripp, is “the sad state of yawning in the face of glory”.
As someone who is easily excited, it doesn’t take much for me to feel awe in creation. Simply suggest KFC for dinner, or tag me in a dog meme, and you’ll have me bubbling over with breathless excitement. While I can see greatness and glory in created things, I don’t always feel the same way about the Creator. I yawn in the face of God’s glory.
While I can see greatness and glory in created things, I don’t always feel the same way about the Creator.
This book challenged me to consider the ways in which I stand in awe of everything but God. Tripp describes this as a form of “spiritual blindness”, where I can physically see God, but not be moved by Him anymore. He attributes spiritual blindness to my sinful condition, which works to “blind our eyes and dull our hearts” from seeing God’s awe-inducing glory. The attitude of treasuring created things above the Creator is idolatry, and is the root of a whole host of feelings including self-centredness, entitlement, discontentment, fear, anger, doubt, exhaustion and spiritual coldness.
While this book exposed my heart’s capacity for sin and idolatry, it also gently pointed me back to Jesus, and his promise of redeeming grace. Awe is not something that you can fake or muster up by your own strength, and yet there is hope in the One who gives us spiritual eyes to see.
Blending Scripture and personal observations, Tripp has the unique ability to share challenging heart truths with tenderness and care. Rather than leaving me stuck in spiritual shame, this book empowered me to run towards Christ for help and healing.
Reviving Awe in the Everyday
The second half of the book provides practical and concrete tips for spiritual growth, and presents a worldview which helped me to see the presence of God in the everyday. In one chapter, Tripp quotes and unpacks the poetry of Isaiah 40, with the hopes to stretch our capacity for awe so that we can once again see the “heart-pounding, silence-inducing, worship-stimulating awe of God”. The book ends with practical examples of how having the right awe of God can positively impact our church, home, parenting and work life.
I recommend this book to seasoned believers who may be feeling a little tired or worn out in their faith journey. Awe both challenged my mind and stirred my heart to have a greater awareness of God’s glory. My relationship with Him may be way past the honeymoon phase, but I’m grateful that Awe helped me to think and feel deeply for God again.
You can download the first chapter of Awe, from Paul Tripp’s website: https://www.paultripp.com/awe