Discipline of Astonishment
“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible–everything got started in Him and find its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.” Colossians 1:14-17 The Message
Everything, What you give and What you gain to become like Jesus, was written by Mary DeMuth as an encouragement and challenge to grow in the Christian faith. She is straightforward and vulnerable in sharing her life and journey of faith. She draws the reader in and then asks insightful questions in each chapter. I am on to be on the ‘Launch Team’ for this book, and have been blessed with reading Everything before it was released on October 16th.
Cultivate the Discipline of Astonishment
“Cultivate the Discipline of Astonishment” lays the foundation of the book in chapter one. Mary DeMuth discusses five truths if we want Jesus to be our everything. After reading this chapter, I took on the personal challenge to grow in the discipline of astonishment.
Truth One: God creates.
“The triune God created the world. When the world careens out of control, we can rest in the fact that God spun this world with a simple word. Matter from emptiness. Beauty from void. Community from Chaos.” (p. 5)
This thought opened my eyes to see the beauty of the world in a fresh, new way. On a recent trip to Vermont, the beautiful canopy of colors spreading over the mountains astonished me. I hated the thought of blinking because I would miss something. Only God can create a tree that is half green, half crimson-orange. Only God can create the change of seasons with such splendor.
Truth Two: God is Other.
“Jesus’ line of thinking confounded and confused the disciples. Why? Because they tried to measure Christ by human standards. Christ was fully human, but paradoxically was also fully God, which made Him wildly unpredictable and downright strange. Our triune, mysterious God is far above what we can think or perceive or categorize.” (p.6)
In our ordinary lives we try to put God in a predictable box with predictable actions. We want to walk by sight and not by faith. On the contrary, the life of the Christ follower is to be dependent on the mysterious God. Stepping out in faith is where growth occurs, where we begin to walk by faith and not by sight. When I am distressed by situations, I desperately seek God. Through the eyes of faith I see Him do something other than what I expected. Once again, He proves he is sovereign, beyond my thoughts.
Truth Three: God Redeems.
“God is a God who redeems. He beautifies the most haggard. He rescues us from pits far too deep to scale. We, the helpless creation, must look to the only One who is able to free us. Our redemption is an outrageous, initiating act accomplished by God alone.”(p.8-9)
The redemptive work of Jesus turned tragedy into victory. The agony of the crucifixion brought about our redemption. By saying ‘yes’ Christ, we become new. People who were once hardened by bitterness become soft hearted and loving because of redemption in Christ. I exchanged low self-esteem and pity for the acceptance of Christ and love of the heavenly Father.
Truth Four: God sees.
“We place God in our small boxes, limiting Him to humanness, forgetting His omnipresence. He is everywhere. He is everything. Of course He sees. He not only sees the entire world and universe, but His vision becomes myopic too. He can focus on one of us at a time, even if we travel far away from home and comfort.” (p.10-11)
When I stepped out of my comfort zone in the far side of Russia, God repeatedly amazed me with the answers to my simple prayers. He saw my need when I was lonely, providing fellowship and laughter in the midst of an uncertain culture. In preparation for the trip, I packed along some things I thought I would use in ministry. Once I got there, very few of the items were used as I thought they would. However, God used every one of them for His purposes in ways I did not imagine. I was astonished once more.
Truth Five: God inhabits.
“God is present. And if we have given our lives to Him, He, as Holy Spirit, resides in us. He makes His home inside our lives. Seeing His brilliance and power, understanding his ability to create, realizing His might, contrast wildly with the truth that this God, this amazing God, inhabits us. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and He sees us –an astonishing fact. Simply meditating there will change our growth patterns forever.” (p.12)
God specializes in taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary by His presence. God doesn’t use perfect vessels. He uses willing vessels. The more of our lives we give to Jesus, the more He transforms us. He takes our fears and failures, our pain and our past, and our missteps and misconceptions. He works within us, for His glory.
In this special-effects laden culture it is easy to lose the astonishment factor. Take time to observe the astonishing actions God has taken toward us.
Here are some astonishing, amazing intangibles I’ve experienced from God:
- Cradling a newborn generation, as I held my first grandchild.
- Seeing dedication by those who create quality products, as I saw when recently toured places that make ice cream, cheese, and maple syrup; all of them held high standards and pride for their products.
- Observing someone conquer a fear, as we (my-scared-of heights-hubby and myself) went zip-lining through a Vermont forest.
There are deeper levels of astonishment, such as
- Witnessing the power of Christ to change a heart
- Seeing the transformation of a person’s life overcome as addiction
- Knowing the freeing power of forgiveness.
Take a fresh look at creation. Grasp the wonder of our redemption, of how God chose to draw us back to Himself. Be open to spiritual renewal as offered in Jesus Christ. Creation, redemption, and renewal are all wonders of His hands.
It’s very astonishing, isn’t it?
May the Lord bless you as you cultivate the Discipline of Astonishment.