At a conference a few weeks I listened to a speaker talk about growing up in Tennessee as a child and never seeing snow. He described the wonder of it when he woke up one Christmas morning while visiting family in a northern state and seeing the ground covered in it.
As he spoke about growing up and finding his wonder often turning to cynicism, I resonated with his words. I am surrounded by wonderous things – family, friends, purpose, opportunities, and a loving God. Yet these blessings so often lose their wonder as I attempt to manage them rather than relish and share them. This season of the year can be an especially tempting time to fret and manage rather than rediscover wonder.
May smacks of December in terms of the look of our family calendar. Award banquets, sporting events, end of year concerts, and parties to celebrate graduates fill the evenings and weekends. We need to prepare for a vacation to visit family in Texas and oh my goodness the twins birthday is Friday. (How can they be 17 already?)
All of these good things can overwhelm me… not in a wonderous.. “wow we are blessed” kind of way. Instead I get overwhelmed by all that has to be done and the lack of margin that accompanies these blessings. I can so easily lose my wonder at the beauty of my gifts. How about you? As you evaluate the nature of your complaints lately, could their be some wonder underneath them to rediscover?
- Yes you will be traveling a lot this summer which is hectic, but is it because you get to visit family or your child has an opportunity to travel and play sports?
- Going to doctors appointments and dealing with health issues is certainly difficult, but has the Lord provided excellent medical care and friends to come alongside?
- The calendar may be crammed fuller for a few weeks, but are many of the events and celebrations evidence of the abundance of opportunities and people in our lives?
Imagine for a moment how our complaints would sound to a family living in a hut in a third world country. Each of our blessings is meant to be a gift we treasure and offer up to the Lord rather than one more thing we have to manage.
The Israelites in the wilderness got their eyes off their blessings and lost the wonder of what the Lord had done. They had seen God:
- Split the Red Sea so they could walk through
- Provide water to drink from a rock when they were thirsty
- Put manna on the ground each morning so they wouldn’t starve
God did some pretty wonderous things for them, yet they complained about the length of the journey, the leadership, the lack of variety of food, and many other frustrations they encountered. So later when their 40 years of wandering was complete, the Lord instituted a system of offerings to help them remember all He had done. (Numbers 28:1-15)
These offerings were perpetual reminders for the people to respond to their God with gratitude. There was no other God who created everything, worked miracles, tabernacled with them, provided supernatural food, and made good on His promises. By offering daily, weekly, and monthly sacrifices, they would institute a rhythm of life to help them with thankfulness.
God instituted this plan for worship that involved a lot of blood and sacrifice. In history, the wilderness wanderers stood on the other side of the cross of Christ. These offerings pointed toward ultimate sacrifice and redemption through the blood of Christ. They were a temporary covering to remind the people of God’s holiness and their own sinfulness.
Sacrifices such as these after the cross would be redundant and unnecessary because they were shadows that pointed to Christ. But to the Israelites who lived before the cross, they reminded the people of the blessing of God’s grace. The emphasis on offerings in Numbers reminds us of the enormity of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
Under the New Covenant, the need for these sacrifices is obsolete. However, God still calls us to spiritual rhythms to help us keep our blessings in perspective. Romans 12:1-2 gives us some practical wisdom in rediscovering wonder, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
The Lord asks us to give ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. We worship Him by offering our lives to Him, seeking His way over our own desires and feelings. We ask God to transform us by aligning our thoughts with His. To rediscover wonder means allowing God to change the way we think about our blessings.
How are you doing? Do you find yourself managing your blessings or taking the time to relish them? God Himself is our greatest blessing, yet so often we lose the wonder of His grace. God knows we struggle with forgetfulness and tend to default to blessing management instead of wonder. Today I’m going to take some time outside to focus on the wonder of God.. to remember that He is the God who splits seas and provides for needs. Then I’m going to ask the Lord to transform me into a new person by changing the way I think about my activities and responsibilities. Instead of trying to manage all the things on my calendar, I want to enjoy the incredible blessings of people and their accomplishments in this busy season of life.
Will you join me today in rediscovering wonder?
This August, my new study Numbers: Learning Contentment in a Culture of More is coming out. If you want to explore the concept of contentment even more, I hope you’ll join me in studying the Israelite wilderness journey. It is packed with practical truth to help us learn contentment. You can check out the promo video for it here: