How many times do we use that word, in a day? Working with teens, I hear it all the time. A guy flips a trick on a skateboard and a chorus of "Dude! That was wicked awesome!"s comes from his friends. Someone serves an ace in volleyball and you hear, "Awesome serve!"
We use that word alot. In doing so, we have destroyed it. Why does it matter? Because 'awesome' is a word used to describe God. No, you won't find the word 'awesome' in the Bible. But you will find 'awe' and every time it is used, it is used in reference to God. Look it up:
But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
Dictionary definition of 'awesome': an adjective, expressive of awe.
Dictionary definition of 'awe': totally cool, amazing, radical....wrong
The real dictionary definition of awe is: an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime
Yeah, we don't use it like that- at all.
In November of last year, I devoted seven weeks to intense study. It wasn't as intense as I had intended, but God did teach me so much. During that time, I began a book, "Gripped by the Greatness of God." Attractive title...amazing book.
In one of the chapters, the author addresses this concept of standing in awe in front of God.
First, let me point out, that if you are standing, you are not moving. In every one of the verses cited above and in even just the definition of the word 'awe' one develops a mental picture of being stopped speechless. (That, unfortunately, is how we came about to misuse the word). We are standing...still...enthralled by whatever it is that has caught our attention. Standing still.
How many times do we approach God with an agenda? A spiritual to-do list. We walk up to Him, say our 'Thank You for this day, Thank You for this and such. Bless the missionaries. Keep my family safe. And now, I want this this this this this this and this and yeah, that's it. Amen.' We walk into our prayer closet, impatiently tapping our foot and checking our watch like we're waiting for an oncoming train. Let me start by encouraging you, that the largest and strongest of any plant has deep roots. Deep roots that were developed by holding still. Approach God with no agenda and with time and see what happends.
Now, on to 'awe.' In previous chapters of this book, the author has shared an amazing study in the holiness of God. He leads the reader through Isaiah 6. We read it and think, 'Ug, Old Testament, who cares?' You should. The Old Testament paints the picture of God that allows the New Testament to show us our need for Christ.
When you have a second, read through Isaiah 6, and get a glimpse of the holiness of God. For now, I'm going to direct your attention to Psalm 33: 6-9.
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
That, folks, is a big God. That is something to stand in awe of.
If you follow the Jewish faith, they regard the name of God very very highly. There are certain names for God that they won't even mention and when they write 'God' they write it 'G-d' so that they are certain that they are not taking His name in vain. Then here we are using it all the time, right along with 'awesome.' Just not the way it was supposed to be used.
The author of "Gripped" leveled a challenge at his readers. He said that, in his house, his children are not allowed to use the word awesome unless they are talking about God. He encourages his readers to do the same. I encourage you to do this as well.
As I stopped using 'awesome' to describe plays in a game or someone's cooking, my relationship with God changed. 'Awesome' became, what I call, a sacred word. It is a word 'sanctified' (set-apart) for something. Awesome became a sacred word for me to describe God and usually in my prayer to Him.
As I began to use it solely for Him, I noticed something. It began to carry the meaning it was intended to have. When I pray, 'God, You are an awesome God' I get caught on the word and have to think about it. As I do, I realize how awesome of a God He truly is.
Still aren't convinced? Read the final chapters of Job. Job has had a string of 'bad luck' and gets advice from three close friends. In my honest opinion, his friends were idiots, but I am sure that there was a time when I would have given the same advice. They are convinced that Job has somehow screwed up. Their basic emotion is: "Wow! Job. What did you do? You must have done something real bad for God to be doing this to you. You need to get your heart right and do whatever it is He told you."
Unlike Jonah, Job's problems were not caused by disobedience. On the contrary, they were caused by obedience! And after chapter upon chapter of tolerating this poor advice, God finally steps onto the scene and pretty much tells Job, "Step up and face me like a man." God spends the remainder of this book showing His majesty. In essence, He is telling Job: "Do you understand who I am? Where you there when I made the world? Where you there when I created the laws of science? Answer Me! Where you there?" Read those chapters. Pay attention to the words. Pause. Reflect. And stand in awe of your Creator, the Calmer of the Seas, the Judger of the Nations, the Master of the Tides, the King of Kings, the Jealous one, the Sacrifice, the Kinsman Redeemer, the Spotless Lamb, your Shield and Buckler, your Fortress forever, your Messiah, your Saviour.
Stand in awe.