In 2001, Ann and I had the pleasure of riding the California Zephyr from Denver to Sacramento. En route we became friends with a British couple who were touring the United States by train, and had some interesting conversations with them about differences in our customs, language and outlook. My English friend remarked how, if we Americans really understood the meaning of the word “awesome”, we might use it half a dozen times in our life – not half a dozen times in the same sentence!
It was late afternoon as we crested the Sierras near Lake Tahoe sitting in the observation car on that train, and one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever witnessed ensued. As we descended the mountains, the colors in the sky just became deeper, more vibrant, and more amazing. I elbowed my friend and said simply, “Awesome!” To which he replied, “And rightly so! And rightly so!”
The God who made that sunset is infinitely more awesome than the sunset! When we are inspired by things like sunsets or rainbows, we should recognize them as memorials to our awesome God, and our response should be to remember and worship Him. When we see amazing rock formations, towering mountains, or deep canyons we should remember that these were very likely created by the great Flood, and it should recall to our minds the power and judgment our Creator God exercised upon a completely wicked world. One could even say that the entire universe around us is a sort of memorial that should cause us to fear God in the proper way – that is, to be in awe of Him. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4, NASB)