Awe: Why It Matters

awe

Awe: Why It Matters For Everything We Think, Say, & Do

“But God is good. His goodness is the foundation stone of his awesome qualities. He never thinks, desires, says or does what is evil. He is the definition of all that is good, right, and true. Everything He does is good in every way. His goodness is so bright and glorious it should leave us breathless, silent and amazed. And if we are amazed at his goodness, we won’t panic in times of trouble, and we won’t refuse to do the hard things he calls us to” (100).

As I read Awe: Why It Matters For Everything We Think, Say, and Do by Paul David Tripp, one thing kept coming to mind over and over: a quote by A. W. Tozer that summarizes well the intended purpose of this book. “Whatever fascinates us will guide us, so I pray that the only thing that will fascinate me is God and His marvelous glory.”

Overarching Themes

Awe of God versus awe of self – this is the battle we fight daily as believers. Tripp takes us back to the beginning, Genesis 1-3, to show us both how we are hardwired for awe and where the war for our awe began. He refers to man’s bent to live in awe of self as “awe-wrongedness.” In an effort to show the power and significance of what holds our awe, he appeals to Romans 1:18-32. Due to our human nature, we tend to forget who God is and fail to see him in creation around us. This amnesiac tendency is also blind, which means we often cannot see that we are forgetful.

Awe of self quickly replaces awe of God. Our hearts are flighty and given to wandering and the only way to be rescued from this is by the grace of God.

Grace. The glorious solution, the recapturing of our awe, relies solely on the powerful, transforming, amazing grace extended to us by the steadfast love of a sovereign God. There is no formula for fixing our awe problem. A very crucial part of the process of growth however, is recognizing that we have cold, fickle, and often selfish hearts. “To the degree that we deny the awe wandering of our hearts, to that degree, we devalue the grace that is our only hope in life and death” (64).

The solution lies not in commitments (our feeble attempt at penance) but in repentance. Recognizing that we are our own problem, humbling as it may be, enables us to recognize grace for what it is – forgiving, rescuing, powerful, glorious, transforming, satisfying, personal, amazing, zealous, delivering, enabling, incomparable, efficacious, and unending.

Humanity, The War for Awe, and The Glorious Solution

Chapters 1-5 begin with the concept that humanity is created for awe. We are meant to be blown away when we take in the grandeur of creation. Sadly, because our capacity for awe was broken at the fall, we too often settle for and pursue things that fail to truly satisfy our longings. A war rages daily over who or what will control our awe, and will continue until we are finally redeemed. What was meant to drive us to God gets kidnapped by other things because of sin. This affects both what we do and why we do it.

Understanding this transforms the ministry of the believer and enables him to better help people in solving problems. Problems in our lives are usually awe problems. Things that surface as problems in life are often the result of replacement – replacing awe of the Creator with awe of self. We want to be in God’s place as Lord of our lives. This results in “awe amnesia;” we yawn in the face of glory. What a mess we have made of things! The only way out is repentance and full reliance on transforming grace.

Chapters 6-8 shift to some practical ways we see the war for awe manifested in our lives. Understanding awe itself and why we are created to live in awe of God transforms the way we understand things like transgression, complaint, and materialism. Transgression becomes more than breaking law. We break God’s law, not because we are looking for a law to break, but because we are searching for an awe fix. Complaint is awe-lessness verbalized. Materialism, at its core, is not a thing problem, but an awe problem.

Chapters 9-12 detail the glorious solution and the way it plays out in our lives. The recapture of our awe is a process of spiritual growth that, when misunderstood, leads many believers to discouragement. This discouragement is a result of lack of knowledge of God and how He chooses to work in our lives. As we grow in our knowledge of Him, the resulting awe fuels our worship. As this spiritual growth happens, it transforms our worldview, which is evident in the way we live as church members, parents, and employees.

Highlights From Reading

I was simultaneously blessed and encouraged while being challenged and convicted as I read Awe. The idea that my heart is fickle, flighty, and given to wandering resonates with what is clearly seen in Scripture. Tripp never leaves his reader hanging with that idea, though, without the reminder of amazing grace. I was blessed and encouraged by the beautiful, vivid definitions of grace as it was contrasted with our human tendencies. By definition, awe is a longing, a cry for a destination fulfilled only by relationship with God. Every moment of worship wherein we stand in awe of a powerful God prepares us for the incalculable awe that is to come.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Scriptures that were inserted throughout the book. Tripp prints the passages of Scripture he refers to, and takes the time to expound them well. While the overarching themes appear in some form in nearly every chapter, he creatively restates them to keep them from becoming dry or overwhelming.

I highly recommend this book to believers in any stage of life. It was an enjoyable read – not too wordy, but well worded. The chapter structure helped me process main points by providing a practical grid through which I could see the main theme of each chapter. Don’t skip the preface or the epilogue either. These include interesting bits of Tripp’s reason for writing and further definition of awe. This book would be a great addition to your personal library to serve as a reminder that there is but one who stands worthy of our awe, worship, and affection. He is the only one who will truly satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts for all of eternity.

Ruthie Ruthie Hostetler  is quite fond of the rolling hills of Bedford, Pennsylvania, which she calls home. She enjoys sewing, coffee, a good laugh and her eight nieces and nephews. She is passionate about living a life aligned with The Truth, relationships that impact the next spiritual generation, and singing at all times and in all places.

Bibliography

Tripp, Paul David. Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015. Print.
“Favorite Quotes.” REX MISSIONS. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2016. http://www.rexmissions.com/favorite-quotes.html

2 thoughts on “Awe: Why It Matters

  1. Have not read the book but your essay was right on. A wonderful way to live – Awe of God will conquer all sin and depression. Psalm 4:4 is a life-changer!

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