Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

A Story of Christian Awe

By Andrewtix

A few weeks ago, I posted this article on new research showing how the experience of awe decreases stress. One of the longest and most engaged readers of this blog, Rick Rawson, reached out and offered to write a follow up post in which he shared part of his story on how his growth in Christian awe transformed his experience of stress. His writing is featured below. Hope you enjoy. ~Andy


In Anne of Green Gables, Mrs. Rachel Lynde says, “There is no end to trouble in life until you’re dead.” 

Trouble is one thing. How we respond to it is another.

Stress is a very common response when trouble arrives on the scene. Expected, even. Echoing Mrs. Lynde, we know that “there is no end to stress in life, until we’re dead.” That’s not all bad. Human beings cannot maintain a healthy life without some stress. But not all stressors are the same. Some people find it stressful to eat a new food, snails (escargot) or fried crickets, for example. On the other hand, death of a spouse is as stressful as life gets. “Just eat the crickets,” we might reasonably implore. But, for many other stressors in life, “just get over it” falls on deaf ears. 

About ten years ago, I began, very slowly, over a period of years, to realize there were important statements in the Bible I did not believe. Let me be clear. Did I believe God loved me? Yes. Did I believe Jesus died for my sins? Yes. Did I believe the Lord was my Shepherd? Yes. Did I believe “I shall not want?” Theoretically, yes. But, when the rubber hit the road, believing God would always and without fail provide what I needed was not something I was inclined to do. And so, I didn’t. Most of the time.

I started with prayer.

David prayed. Paul prayed. Jesus prayed. They prayed a lot. So, I set out on a journey to learn how to pray. I was not interested in learning how to say grace at meals with more variety or how to pray publicly with more eloquence. I wanted to learn how to pray like David and Paul and Jesus.

Learning how to pray has been critical to my ability to hear God. Can God speak through circumstances? Yes. Can God speak through other Christians? Yes. Was I able to recognize Jesus’ voice when he spoke to me? Mostly, no. Why? because I had never taken the time to truly listen and to learn what his voice sounded like. “Be still and know that I am God,” wrote the Psalmist. That verse had always inspired me, but never moved me to shut up and listen… until the day I decided to shut up and listen.

The other day, when I read Psalm 4, I knew that what I was reading was God telling me about the reality in which I live.

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4: 1, 7)

There was a time when I would have been inspired by these verses, and then just walked away. Being inspired is not nothing, but I want more.
Relief came to David because he saw God as “my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2) Over and over, throughout the Psalms, we read phrases like this: “God is my fortress.” Importantly, David wrote “God is my fortress,” and not “God provides a fortress.” There is a world of difference between God providing a fortress and God being a fortress. David didn’t see relief as something that God did for him. He saw relief as residing in God Himself.

A Story of Christian Awe
Matteus Ferraro | Unsplash

To contemplate God is to experience awe that is not comparable to anything else in the universe. There is no meadow of wildflowers in bloom, no majestic mountain range, no ocean expanse, no constellation of stars, no galaxy that can compare with the God who created all those things. In the contemplation of God, the awe experienced puts everything else into perspective. It is in the contemplation of the God who is, not God as we want him to be, where we find relief from stress.

A few weeks ago, I lived through a very dark day. I had an encounter with someone that left me very discouraged and disheartened. I could not see a way forward and had no idea how to fix things. The Lord let me sit in the middle of that trouble for a whole day and then, in my prayer time the next day, he spoke to me in my distress. I had been praying through Isaiah for weeks, and Isaiah 60 was the next chapter to read:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. [2] For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2)

I stopped reading right there. I recognized that God was speaking to me. I sat, quietly, for several minutes, in the presence of God who was there in the very room where I sat. I basked in his glory and his majesty. Awe. The darkness lifted immediately as God moved me to focus on him, and his glory, not my troubles. Then, I perceived the way forward, the steps that I would need to take in this troubled relationship.

There is no magic formula. This encounter happened because I chose several years ago to abide in God, to pray consistently, to pour out my heart to him every day, to listen to his voice, to believe what he says, to do what he tells me, to rest in him, to stand in awe of who he is. Not just when there is trouble, but every day. In all this, I am most definitely a work in progress with a very long way to go, but apprenticeship to Jesus is like that: “a long obedience in the same direction.”

I am slowly learning, day by day, that we are meant to tremble, not before trouble, but before God.

“Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” (Psalm 96:9)

And that makes all the difference.

This blog post was written by Rick Rawson. Rick regularly blogs at He bends down.

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