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On The Upper Room Discourse Re-Release For Lent 2024

Things To Wonderful

Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.
Proverbs 30:18-19

“What did you notice today?” Rather than asking his little daughter “What did you do today? “, theologian and writer Douglas Burton-Christie likes to ask her young eyes what they saw. Burton-Christe says that he now finds his daughter frequently asking him what he noticed. There is truly so much for us to notice and to see, for as the prophet Isaiah observed, “The whole earth is full of the LORD’s glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

In today’s scripture, the sage of Proverbs notices the wonders of daily life. He sees things he says that are “too wonderful”. He sees these in an eagle riding the wind, a snake slithering so nimbly across a rock, a ship navigating uncharted seas, and the love of a man and woman.

Throughout the thirty-one chapters of Proverbs the sage wonders at the stuff of the world around him. He wonders at the mystery of creation, the destiny of nations, human relationships, and most of all he wonders at the mystery we call God. The wise know that wisdom is related to wonder; to look at things and to let ourselves wonder. Scottish philosopher and mathematician Thomas Carlyle thought, “wonder is the basis of worship”. People can only worship when they have heartfully and thoughtfully been in wonder of God, His creation, the Incarnation, and His amazing grace.

One of the reasons I so enjoy being with little children is that they have not yet forgotten wonder. They see miracles everywhere. While I might rush on, they stop to wonder at a squirrel bounding limb to limb, or the rainbow colors of a soap bubble.

Jewish theologian and philosopher Abraham Heschel spoke about the human need for “radical amazement”:

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement….to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Once when asked by an interviewer what he thought his greatest gift was, Heschel happily responded: “My ability to be surprised.” G. K. Chesterton was right: “The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.”

Poet E. E. Cummings enjoyed surprising readers with his disregard of rules of grammar, but often expressed radical amazement at God and daily life. What a wondrous prayer for us today:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and                                       
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Yes, Isaiah, “The whole earth is full of the LORD’s glory”. May the ‘eyes of our eyes’ be open to the wonder of God and His world today. And as you wonder, may you worship!

A fellow traveler,

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