Heavenly Father,

Thank you for being God. Thank you for being such a wise, creative, powerful, tenderhearted, patient, and sovereign King of the world. May your name forever be hallowed, in my heart, in my home, in my church, and in my world.

You are indeed a good King, and we, made in your image, are made to see and savor you. We are made to bask in the light of how beautiful you are. It is not enough to agree that you are good. You demand that we enjoy you. You demand that we wonder at you. In your wisdom, you have commanded our wonder.

You have not hidden your wonder. You have stamped it throughout creation. The bristle of the tree leaves in a summer wind says, “Wonder!” The orange lake poured over the sky in sunrise says, “Wonder!” The impenetrable depths of the ocean floor, where live creatures our best technology and brightest minds cannot fathom, say, “Wonder!” The Milky Way, the exoplanets, the distressing vastness of space, they all say “Wonder!” You have commanded our wonder, and you have given us much to wonder at.

But wonder doesn’t come easy to us. Like the man in Bunyan’s slough of despond, our eyes are weighed downwards, away from the majesty and toward the muck. Your night skies go unheeded in favor of the dull blue glow of our iPhones. We ignore the wonder of words (how amazing language is!) and focus instead on how we can use them to gain platforms from people we don’t pray for. We greet the world you have made not with wonder, delight, and worship, but with cynicism and defensiveness, so occupied with trying to show others that we belong here that we forget why we belong here.

Wonderful things are close to us, yet wonder feels far away. Yet we often confuse this for nostalgia. If we could just go back to childhood, if we could unlearn what we’ve learned, if we could lose ourselves once again in pleasure and play, we think we would wonder again. “Things were better before,” we say every year, meaning “Before this year.” We want the good old days and we want to know we’re in them. We want to wonder and yet feel ourselves wondering. We want to wonder at our wondering.

We want, so often, to wonder at ourselves.

But we can’t. No matter how hard we try, self-wonder crumbles under the distractions of life. It is exhausting to see mirrors everywhere. We are tired. We want to see you.

Father, help us to do this. Help us to see you. Help us to see you in the beauty of the summer skies and the winter frost. Help us to see you in the great stories. Help us to see you in each other. Help us to see you in the simplest of things, the things we don’t even think about because we are distracted. Help us to love where You have put us, with whom You have put us, when You have put us. Help us to wonder, not wander.

Help us to wake up every morning eager to wonder at You, who You are, and what You’ve done. Help us not to wake up already imagining ways to make strangers respect us. Help us not to see the world through social media, nor through all-consuming careerism. Help us to be productive but also to rest, and help us remember that work and wonder are not always the same. Help us to be calm in an outraged time, and help us to be quiet in a culture that demands we fill all silence with words.

Help us to wonder now, like we will be doing for eternity.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Posted by Samuel James

Samuel D. James serves in the Office of the President at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can follow him on Twitter @samueld_james.