the power of wonder
By Susan Orloff
September 25, 2020
Passages of the day: Click HERE to read today’s passages.
As we reflect on our journey through Isaiah, the sweeping narratives and ancient prophecies may seem of little value to our ultra-modern world. But percolating beneath the surface is a powerful hidden message; and it’s a message that targets our 21st century with the force of a heat-seeking missile.
Isaiah’s rapturous prose is that of a man who lived in a perpetual state of wonder. And for Isaiah, wonder was more than an ecstatic frame of mind; it was the key to gaining access to the very presence of the Holy One of Israel. But over the ages, wonder has been rendered impotent as it’s become our default response to nearly every “new thing” that comes along. Isaiah asserted that only ONE new thing was deserving of true & proper wonder – which he revealed in a verse at the very epicenter of God’s Story, as the Holy One of Israel declares:
“Behold, I am doing a NEW thing.” (Is. 43:19)
Israel expected their Messiah to vanquish the power of empires; but God chose to vanquish the power of death instead. (Behold, I am doing a NEW thing.)
Israel expected their Messiah to uphold the law of Moses; but God chose to write the law on their hearts with the hand of his Holy Spirit. (Behold, I am doing a NEW thing.)
Israel expected their Messiah to come only for the Jewish nation; but God said “Turn to me and be saved ALL you nations of the earth!” Is. 45:22. (Behold, I am doing a NEW thing.)
And Israel expected their Messiah to transform their temporal destinies; but God chose to revolutionize their eternal destinies by transforming them into NEW creations!
The sheer novelty of God’s Plan - which Isaiah could only envision, but which we can actually experience - should reverberate through us DAILY like a wonder-powered shock wave. But it doesn’t. Because in this post-modern age, we’ve become the masters of misplaced wonder. If we could take the technology that we possess in 2020 and transport ourselves back in time by just 500 years, the locals wouldn’t think we were aliens; they would think we were gods. And who among us doesn’t experience wonder at the roll-out of each new innovation?
Isaiah had a name for misplaced wonder: idolatry. And we all know how that turns out. (“Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away.” Is. 47:11) Certainly innovations are a wondrous gift from God! But in the spirit of Isaiah’s message, let’s reserve our proper wonder -- NOT for the new things that we have, but for the Source of the New Things that we are!
For the Lord is God,
and he created the heavens and earth
and put everything in place.
He made the world to be lived in,
not to be a place of empty chaos.
“I am the Lord,” he says,
“and there is no other.
— Isaiah 45:18
Prayer to start with: God, I am in wonder of all you created. Let me never forget or take for granted the beauty of this world and all that you have created. Your are the source of all joy that no materialistic possessions or entertainment can ever replace. I glorify for all that you have done, Lord. Thank you for your awesome wonder! Amen.