My four-year-old takes the world by storm daily. There is little stopping him. He believes he’s in charge and everything is his to rule.
When he was still crawling, he tore apart and splintered a wooden baby gate to get to our staircase. He believed he would not be stopped. We promptly put the item into the trash, and that’s when my friend nicknamed him “Baby Hulk.”
This last month we discovered this spunky son of ours has actually been holding himself back. We’ve been exploring the woods, creeks, and hiking trails around our state.
While on a hike, we stopped to wade in a stream. Since we’re constantly reigning him in, he was shocked we told him to get in and that it was ok to get wet and dirty all he wanted. He hesitated and then, next thing we knew, he wore a peculiar grin while smacking branches in the water and yelling to those hiking past us, “The water is fun!”
Last week we went camping. He whacked trees with sticks, shouted “Hello” to the birdies, and chose to run to every place we went instead of walk. His older brother asked, “Why does my brother run everywhere and get so excited about little things?”
“He’s small and so everything in our world is full of wonder to him,” I answered. “He wants to see what everything is about and how he fits into the world.”
“I’m full of wonder too,” my nine-year-old stated.
“I know,” I replied.
Capturing Wonder: How God Works Through People
When we grow older, it’s harder to capture this same kind of wonder. Truth be told, my entire year has been filled with mid-life angst and discouragement. Where is God? I wonder often.
I do not take the world by storm. I am not quick to run to the next thing. With fear and trepidation after a handful of deep disappointments, I’m more prone to cynicism and the loss of hope.
The reality is that God is here for it all. He delights in our excitement over exploring His creation. He’s also here in the discouragement and hopelessness.
In the Bible, we can see countless examples of those who got caught in difficult situations. They got discouraged. They were sick. They were rejected by their families and in their hometowns.
If, and when, they were able to rise above their circumstances, it was only because God did something amazing.
How God Worked Through Elijah
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Elijah. During a drought, God directed His prophet to stay near a brook and sent food to him by ravens. (“Hello, birdies!”)
When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to be fed at the home of a widow. Through Elijah, God also saved the life of the widow’s son.
Most widely known, Elijah had a showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. To prove God was the best, water was dumped on the altar, and Elijah saw God send fire to burn up the sacrifice, the wood, the soil, the stones, and then lick up the water in the trench. What a sight to behold!
But those around Elijah were not happy with Elijah—or his God! So, Elijah ran away.
Can you relate to the despair and worry and fear Elijah must have faced at that point? He was so downtrodden, he was even ready to die (1 Kings 19:4-5). God strengthened Elijah with food and water once again and the prophet made his way to a cave where God met Elijah with His presence.
God’s presence was not like Elijah expected. Instead of being loud in a great and powerful wind or earthquake, God came in a whisper. Sometimes I’m too loud to hear God whisper but He can speak to us, and He does.
What eventually became of Elijah? Did he die? No. He was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot.*
God is not boring. He’s pretty creative when He works on behalf of His servants! Though artists have attempted to depict what that event must have looked when the chariot arrived and departed in a whirlwind, we can never know for sure what God did and what a scene that must have been.
How God Works Through People: More From Scripture
Elijah is just one of many people in Scripture. God came to others who were discouraged and ready to die in the desert, like Hagar (Genesis 21:8–21). God worked on behalf of others who ran for their life, like David (2 Samuel 22:1–20). God’s messengers in both the Old and New Testament, came face to face with those who did not believe in the One True God and were pursued or harmed for their belief in Him.
But these situations did not end in discouragement. There was wonder, and praise, and pursuing by God. And that one time—even a chariot!
Author Anne Lamott says there are three essential prayers: help, thanks, wow. All of these prayers and experiences can be seen in God’s people and throughout His work in the Bible.
Which one comes last? Wow! Wonder.
God Is Moving and Working
Each of us—even children—can relate to the fact that our world is filled with brokenness due to the effects of sin. We all know what it’s like to feel frustration and sadness and pain. It’s good for kids to know that these feelings exist in the Bible.
They were even felt by Jesus when He was on earth. His friends died. He was put to death. As my sons get older, and they stop running toward what’s next because they have experiences that give them pause and caution, I hope they will remember how God works in our world and through the people in His big story.
I hope that streams remind them of where God sent Elijah to drink deeply in a drought. I hope the sight of a bird reminds them that God provides for our needs, just as Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25–34).
I hope they know that God can and will work through their lives in creative and unique ways. That they fit into His world.
And I hope all of this continues to fill their lives with His wonder.