Several years ago while travelling by ferry overnight in Alaska a scene unfolded that I suspect caused at least one angel to gasp: the expanse of the sky transformed from inky blackness into an infinite canvas on which brushstrokes of apricot, sapphire, and emerald painted themselves into the night sky. Like an oil painting in progress, the colors refused to stand still. The hues danced as if listening to jazz. Iridescent shades sharpened then faded with wild fervor.
Aware of the privilege of watching God's creation unfold its glorious mysteries, I didn't want to miss a millisecond of the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Wonderstruck by my Creator, this moment of spiritual awakening stirred in me a longing to experience more of God. If these lights were so beautiful, how much more stunning must their maker be? What kind of God paints the sky in such effulgent hues? For some, the northern lights are a tourist attraction, but for me, they are a portal to the very heart of God. My lips remained motionless, but my soul sang as I witnessed this revival in the night sky.
Despite this and other breathtaking moments of God that I've experienced, all too often I find myself like so many of the other passengers on the ferry, deep in sleep, missing the moment. I succumb to exhaustion rather than remain alert to the wondrous displays that reveal more of God.
I recently began noticing this in my life in increasing measure. I no longer waited on God with hopeful expectation. Icy religion replaced the delightful warmth of being a child of God. Though I expressed gratitude at the appropriate moments, in the depths of my spirit, I wasn't appreciative. Words of praise may have lingered on my lips during worship, but when the song ended, so did any trace of enthusiasm.
The sense of holy awe was replaced by unholy indifference. Hope diminished to a manageable emotion. Love became a fleeting expression in short supply.
Yet God met me there.
God's infinite nature knows neither beginning nor end; our Creator is like a vast ocean, fathomless and without bounds, an ever-rising tide without abatement, yet in my spiritual journey in the months after our move, I stood ankle deep, baptized only in the shallows of his presence. Yet I sensed the Spirit beckoning me to plunge into the cool, shadowy depths marked by indescribable beauty, those unforgettable moments of life that draw us closer to God. Allured by the Spirit, I lunged forward.
Palms extended, wide-eyed with expectation, I asked God to astound me with himself again. And God did not disappoint. For me, a prayer for wonder asks the Lord to expand my capacity to see and savor the divine gifts all around. Through the months and years that followed, Bible passages that had become stale and flat came alive much like a pop-up book revealing hidden beauty and unexpected surprises.