Friday, July 28, 2006

Dazzlement and Awe ::

Only that which is greater than us can awe us. Peter was fright­ened by what Jesus knew. Perhaps he thought, "If Jesus knows what is in the sea, then he knows what is in me!" It was a fear of the unknown depths and of the God who knows what is down there that engulfed Peter with awe.

The Wisdom literature of Scripture repeats the admonition that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." More than just fright, the word connotes a sense of awe. It is awesome when Christ emerges from our unconscious with something within us that God wants us to discover.

Dazzlement is awe at what emerges from the depths as well as the view from the heights. It is like standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, seeing both enormous depth and distance at the same time. It is at once an acrophobic height as well a marvel of unimagin­able forces and timelessness that could displace such vastness in the earth.

The same Peter who was astonished at what Jesus could surface from the depths of the sea is also the Peter who saw the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain top. Dazzlement is about these highs and lows. On the one hand, we fear what is emerging from the unknown; on the other hand, we rise in ecstasy to the heights of won­der.

Dazzled worshipers, without self-consciousness, are caught up in praise and meaningful stirrings at the experience of God's greatness. Concomitantly, they are brought down in conviction of their sinfulness once their self-consciousness returns. Isaiah, in a vision of dazzlement, "saw the Lord . . . high and exalted," and responded, "Woe is me!"

Dazzlement feels like a dangerous place. Some of us are so defended against awe that we resist any stirring of the depths lest we lose our composure. Others are so predisposed to the histrionic that we view and portray dazzlement as something of supreme value in itself and as the ultimate validation of true Christianity. Both are two sides of the same coin; for one, dazzlement is too much of a threat and for the other, it is too much of an end. A balanced view of dazzlement sees it not so much as a norm for the journey, but a place that reveals some­thing we need to know as we travel in the plains and valleys of life: that God is always beyond what we "ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."


Blogger Nikita said...

I just wanted to drop by as a lost Christian and voice my appreciation for this blog, and indeed the entire site. Well done.

7:10 AM  

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