Wonder and Miracle

I found myself thinking this morning about something Denis Haack said at the L’abri Conference: “If you are too busy for wonder, you are too busy.”

I find it so easy to be practical in my daily life. I drive my car and feel the air and am awoken by the sun in my window and greet my friends and it all produces no wonder because I have made the mistake of believing all these things are merely normal. In his essay, The Ethics of Elfland. G. K. Chesterton writes about bringing the lessons of “elfland” home to the real world. One such lesson is that in elfland anything at all can happen, which means that everything is a miracle. The point of Chesterton’s essay is to say that it is, in fact, the real world where everything is a miracle. Chesterton writes:

“…perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.

Humans are perched precariously in the midst of mystery. Blaise Pascal wrote that at our left is an immensity of smallness and at our right is an immensity of greatness. If you examine the world God has made and try to break it down into it all its pieces you will eventually be looking into things so small our science can only see them with equations and beyond those things there is mystery that can only be guessed at. On the larger scale, we are surrounded by a universe so large that entire galaxies are born and die before the light from their existence has enough time to reach us. We sit on a tiny globe hung in the vastness and peer out like children listening at the floor for the sounds of their parents laughter.

Wonder is the appropriate response to living. The Bible teaches that we live in a universe created by an infinite God and we will spend eternity staring into his beauties and the beauties of what he has made. For now we hold our breath and wait for the next unfurling of a sunset, or ring of laughter, or grace of creation. We wait on the stage for the next billowing of the curtain to glimpse, in a moment, the face of the author.

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