Wake up the Wonder

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One unmistakable reality about the age in which we live is that we are absolutely inundated with information. This is a fast-moving avalanche that shows no signs of slowing down. Researchers estimate that about 90% of the world’s data was produced in the last 2 years, alone. By this year, 2020, the average internet user will be producing 1.7 megabytes per second. It’s no wonder why the big data analysis sector will balloon to a $103 billion valuation by the end of the year 2023. There is an ever-growing availability (and market) for the information we produce and that is available to us. If you want to know something, you can. If you want to learn how to fix your washing machine, replace your car mirror, or learn to speak a new language, you can. That’s the beauty of information produced and circulated at such a high capacity.

Information is not only increasingly vast, it is increasingly available. Statistically, it is more likely that you are accessing this article on a mobile device than on a computer. Chief Justice Roberts famously quipped that smart devices “are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” Philosophers, scientists, and psychologists have been observing similar trends and making conclusions about how our minds and selves are being shaped by the information that exists at our fingertips. There are clear advantages to having all of this “knowledge” available to us, but is it actually informing and transforming our minds in a way that is helpful?

WHERE HAVE OUR MINDS AND HEARTS GONE?

The volume and availability of information is a wonderful reality with a dark underbelly. On the one hand, we can access and “know” more now than we ever could before. Some estimates say that the New York Times database now contains more information than someone from the 18th century could expect to encounter in a lifetime. However, all of this information accessible and available to us seems to change the way we experience truth. We are often disconnected from the joy of learning and discovery. Why be excited to learn there are as many as 1082 atoms in the observable universe when you also just learned that there are 3 times more sheep in Wales than humans. It’s just another factoid for the day. Trivia has become trivial.

While I could writes volumes about the overall disinterest in discovery, I think there is another possibility that deserves our attention. In our spiritual lives, we might often approach the things of God with the same level of disinterest that we bring to the 7th YouTube video in our playlist. It’s just more of the same; the same truths I have heard (or think I’ve truly heard) or could access online or listen to an Instagram preacher tell me or hear in a trendy new worship song or see on social media. It’s difficult to be excited by the things of God when we aren’t very excitable people or when our excitability is distorted by the constant war for our attention and affection. We approach our Bibles expecting (or possibly finding) mundanity and a cold exchange of information rather than being captured by the beauty of the Lord. As the Psalmist writes:

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple."

                           - Psalm 27:4

WAKE UP THE WONDER

With all of the competition for what excites, compels, and captures our hearts and minds, we need constant refreshment and refocus. We need to often rekindle our souls to seek, savor and enjoy Christ. We need to find rhythms of encountering his truth, beauty and goodness daily. We need the opportunity to be amazed by who He is and what He has done in a way that makes the blaring noise of our lives reduce to a faint whisper. We need to wake up the wonder.

As I often find myself paralyzed and stagnated by the swirling vortex of things vying for my attention and affection, it has been helpful for me to practice a few habits to approach God in His Word and in the world with clarity, excitement and a posture of seeking:

  1. Always "make space" around your time in God's Word. What I mean by this is that you should be aware of how your mind might be tired and restless when you try to encounter God in his Word. If you are prone to distraction or a wondering mind that makes your time in God's Word feel like you're just scanning through the pages, make some space before you read to clear your head. I find it's helpful to set the expectation and posture myself after the understanding that I will encounter the wonder and mystery of God in His Word. 
  2. Disconnect. Take some time to disconnect from social media. Spend some time away from your phone. Take off your smart watch. I remember telling my friend as we were on a multi-day backpacking trip in Arkansas that I hadn't felt so at peace in several days. He looked at me and repsonded: "Of course you do. There's nothign out here to disrupt you." It's amazing how that lesson has shaped my life to this day to see and recongize that we need time to disconnect from all the noise and fray of our lives. We will find ourselves better suited and postured to seek Christ and enjoy Him daily. 
  3. Form habits that stir your affections for God. Whether it is in your morning coffee routine, on your daily run, or even in your commute, find a way of being that makes you ready to seek and savor the truth, beauty and goodness of the Father. I find that brewing a cup of coffee and sitting down with a good book postures my heart and mind to be captured by God.