It seems self-evident that the more a person matures the more he will marvel at God’s created blessings. But who seems to marvel more: you or your children?
Consider my two-year old. Watch her eyes open wide and her little body jump up and down. See her jaw drop. Hear her burst of exclamation. What marvel has she just seen? It might have been an ant on the sidewalk or a cat under the neighbor’s car. Maybe she’s just heard the news that her friend is coming over to play or that we’re having pizza for dinner. It doesn’t take much to amaze her because her days, like those of nearly any small child, are full of wonder.
Of course her days also include plenty of fussing and whining, skills that don’t have to be taught to her sinful heart. It’s easy to place my fatherly attention on addressing and correcting those things, praying that God will change her heart.
But her childlike wonder needs my fatherly attention too. What is actually self-evident is that our wonder, if not nurtured, tends to wither away. Our natural tendency is to become weary, cynical adults, and the lack of wonder can start early: teens and even tweens can be very difficult to impress.
Does this have serious spiritual implications? It certainly does. After all, the prophets foretold that the Messiah would be wonderful (Isaiah 9:6). This Hebrew word often refers to what is so extraordinary and astonishing that we cannot help but cry out in amazement. The word is used when we are told that we should marvel at God’s salvation, His defense of His people, His skill in our personal creation, His understanding of us, His plans for us, His loyal love to us, and His Word to us (Exodus 15:11; Psalm 40:5; 91:1, 3; 119:18, 27, 129; 136:4; 139:1-3, 6, 13-14). In the New Testament we learn that through Jesus God has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
On a more mundane level, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). A mature Christian continues to marvel sunrise after sunrise, song after song, meal after meal, at God’s marvelous gifts and goodness.
If these things are true, then our children’s natural ability to wonder is something for a growing father to nurture. Our desire is that their ability to be amazed by candy and kitties might mature into a deep wonder at their amazing God and worshipful marvel at His saving love for them.
To begin nurturing your family’s wonder, begin with your own. Model amazement. Remember that there is nothing spiritually mature about being cynical or hard-to-impress! Slow down enough to marvel at God’s created blessings, and don’t be afraid to let your family see your amazement at big things and (especially) little things. Then come to God’s Word looking to be amazed. Resist the tendency to look at the Bible in trivial or purely academic ways. “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Feed your own heart on the astonishing miracles, power, and promises recorded there, then let your family see your amazement at God’s Word.
Then you can begin to more directly nurture your family’s wonder:
- Slow down enough to grant them opportunities to marvel at things like music, art, and nature. Don’t succumb to the culture’s frantic rush to the next thing.
- Train them to see past the hype and hubris of technology and media to recognize things that are truly and deeply amazing.
- Remind them why the world is full of wonders. (Genesis 1:31; James 1:17)
- Make sure they understand why wonderful things bring them joy. Marvel at God’s created skill in our bodies and souls that enables us to enjoy things like color and sight, music and hearing, textures and touch. (Psalm 139:13-14)
- Teach them that their amazement is so important that it reaches into heaven, where God is glorified through them. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Encourage them to make wonder a lifelong pursuit for the glory of God, resisting the tendency to become hardened and cynical.
As you nurture your family’s wonder, never lose sight of the gospel. Remember the startling admonition Jesus gave to His disciples: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20) Don’t let them ever forget how amazed you are that God would save you. In the process, you’ll be preparing them for the day of all days, that day when Jesus comes again “to be marveled at among all who have believed.” (2 Thessalonians 1:10).