A study done at Stanford University determined that experiences of awe affect our brains in a positive way. They create feelings of empathy and compassion toward others, a sense of altruism and feelings of general well-being. Well known psychologist Nicholas Humphrey has written that being awestruck is biologically advantageous. It informs our lives with a sense of cosmic significance that he says motivates us to work harder to persist and to survive. He claims the ability to marvel and be in awe is an evolutionary advantage that has been biologically selected for us. Uh huh. I do think awe has been selected for us, but I do not believe that happened through evolutionary processes.
Strangely there are things that I encounter that should cause awe, things that I hear other people say make them marvel in near reverence, but they somehow don’t touch my soul. I’ve heard people speak of some of the amazing pictures of the universe that the Hubble telescope has given us as causing them to awe and marvel in wonder. I have always loved space stuff, but for some reason when I see those pictures I appreciate how amazing they are and enjoy their great beauty, but it doesn’t go much beyond that. Intellectually I see that they are really cool, but they don’t seem to touch my heart in any way.
What does infuse my soul with awe of God? There are many things. Even as I write this I’m listening to some songs, among them Chris Tomlin’s How Great Is Our God, Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name and Hillsongs’ Inside Out. I’ve had to stop writing at times, just to listen in awe at the love of our God. When I am confronted in various ways with the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross I find myself humbled and in awe. Stories of redemption and reconciliation can easily create an awe of God in me. A glorious sunset over the ocean nearly always does it. Acts of sacrificial love by one follower of Jesus for another spark awe of God’s love in me. There are a myriad of ways that I can find myself in awe of God.
What causes you to not just acknowledge but to actually experience the awe of God and to be humbly thankful to him? We are created to live in awe of him. It is the goal of our existence. When you are truly in awe of God you are the closest you will come in this life to being completely whole.