A Surprising Rediscovery

What if you discovered something that could reorder how you feel, think and act? What if it could transform your attitudes, even your behavior?  What if it could reduce inflammation in your body, with things like asthma, sinus infections, allergies, even arthritis?

Dr. David M. Marquis practices Chiropractic Neuro-metabolic therapies in Arroyo Grande, California. He writes: “Inflammation controls our lives.” He suggests you or a loved who has dealt with “pain, obesity, ADD/ADHD, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid issues, dental issues, or cancer” may have encountered inflammation. (Mercola.com, March 7, 2013).

Stay with me. I’m not selling snake oil out of my garage. This is bigger. What can affect these things, and who knows what else, I’ve long believed to be almost unexplainably soul-stirring. Recently some research in Time Magazine awakened me to the far-reaching affects of this remarkable practice. What am I writing about? A three letter word – AWE.

Awesome is over-used, a tired word. Awe, however, is a singular category. What is awe? Dictionary.com says it’s “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like: . . .” Merriam -Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary explains awe as “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.” Wordbook, an iPhone app, defines awe as “an overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration, or a feeling of profound respect for someone or something.”

Awe is a spiritual experience. It’s appreciating something we might have missed: a sunrise or sunset; the beauty of fresh fallen snow; a baby’s birth, smile, first walk, first word. All can generate awe. Awe could capture you sitting in church. Overcome by God’s love, God’s care for you or simply how consequential God is – particularly with something heavy on your mind – you unexpectedly find yourself in awe of God. I’ve tasted it walking our dog in the morning, watching geese flying majestically in V formation; the lead bird was taking the wind for the others; followers honked encouragement. Immediately I awed their creator, and often felt tears fill my eyes.

Perusing Time Magazine’s December 28, 2015/January 4, 2016 issue of Time, my eyes landed on this: “AWE AND REDUCED INFLAMMATION: Awe was found in a January 2015 study to reduce compounds that promote inflamation, which is linked to diseases ranging from Type 2 diabetes to arthritis. In the small study, college students filled out questionnaires about how often they experienced certain emotions. They found that happy moods in general were associated with lower inflammation, but the students who experienced awe most often had especially lower levels” (Page 26).

Then Christianity Today’s November 2015 issue, had a review of #Paul David Tripp’s new book, AWE: Why It Matters for Everything We Think Say and Do, published by Crossway. Tripp confesses to “an ‘Epicurean’ delight in some of life’s finer pleasures. Beautiful artwork and delicious cuisine would call forth feelings of awe.” As fun as those things are, awe can do more. Tripp “shows how time spent ‘gazing on the beauty of the Lord’ transforms our attitudes and behavior” (Page 76 in online pdf).

Having read about awe now a second time, I sensed God was saying something to me: “let Me awe you.”

We have to pause to experience awe. We’ll rarely sense awe while rushing. Stop. Live in the moment. Refocus. Awe is good. It can produce shivers, tears, impassioned wonder. Seek it. Let it happen. Awe can change you in more ways than you imagine.  

Author: Randy J. Gauger

Christ-follower, husband of Mary for 52 years, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, writer, preacher, ordained American Baptist Pastor, retired.

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