I remember sitting in a park in Alaska around this time last year, staring off at Denali in the distance while listening to the rush of a nearby stream that cut through the mountains and thinking simply, “This is nice.” Not, “This is spectacular,” “What an amazing view,” or, “I’ve never seen such beautiful scenery anywhere.” “This is nice” was all I felt. Even in that moment, I knew that I should have been more aware of my surroundings and more appreciative of the Creator’s handiwork. But I wasn’t.
I do this a lot. After over four years of infertility, I’m pregnant with our first biological child, which is obviously a miracle. There are moments when I think I may be beginning to grasp the wonder of this little life, but most days, I remain relatively unmoved. Or worse, I complain.
Over 2,000 years ago, God’s people were this way, too. He rained bread from heaven, and they grumbled. He brought them drinking water out of a rock, and they longed to go back to the land where they were slaves. I wonder what they thought when He made the seas stand up as walls and they walked through on dry land. It may be that, “This is nice” was as far as they got.
One of my favorite things about teaching Pre-K is watching the four-year-olds’ faces in my class light up at the most basic science experiments. When grape juice turns into popsicles after being in the freezer for a couple of hours, they shout with glee. Our caterpillars hatched out of their cocoons as butterflies, and my students could talk of nothing else for the next week.
Perhaps there is a reason why Jesus makes so many references to the faith of children in the New Testament. Their sense of wonder is constantly alive, and they seem to be among the few who have the ability to see the beauty of creation for what it is. When do we stop believing in miracles? Why does God’s grace start to seem insignificant to us?
There are many possible answers to these questions, but the one I keep coming back to is the thought that we do not have accurate perceptions of ourselves and consequently, of God. Because we are so big in our own eyes, He is small. Because we think we can rescue ourselves, we see no need for a Savior. We make ourselves God, and His miracles cease to exist. John Newton, a converted slave trader and author of “Amazing Grace,” saw himself as a “wretch,” and thus was able to write the words to that famous hymn that is still sung so often, hundreds of years later. On his deathbed, he reportedly said, “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior.”
I am not suggesting that we constantly put ourselves down, as that is not true humility. I am saying that we should ask God to help us see ourselves as the great sinners that we are so that we can begin to recognize Him for who He is. We are surrounded by miracles daily, yet we are blind to them because of our heightened view of ourselves and our abilities. May we venture onto a new path and, with His help, stop minimizing the miraculous. Lord, have mercy on us.