In a letter to a dear friend recently, I found myself writing the quasi-encouraging but somehow intimidating instruction to “seek God.” As quickly as the ink spilled from my pen, however, I began to question what that meant. We frequently instruct people in all walks of life to seek God. It is a biblically-sourced instruction. But how does one seek God? Is it a mindset to be adopted? A habit to be cultivated until perfected within the individual? I posit that the mandate to seek God is one that involves living in a perpetual state of what G. K. Chesterton would call wonder.
I frequently close my eyes to relive the moment of awe that unfolded while my friend and I hiked Mt. Marcy. Just as we broke the tree line, the trail opened to a blank rock face before us. We paused and stood in silence. I shrank before an enormous display of grandeur, suddenly aware of my finitude. I was filled with a joy only felt in the presence of God. This, I believe, was a moment in which I experienced the true wonder with which we are called to live.
According to Chesterton, an attitude of wonder recognizes that this is “not merely a world full of miracles; it [is] a miraculous world.” Wonder is marked by intense gratitude, awe, and anticipation — all of which are oriented toward God. Because we are finite and sinful, not only are we undeserving of creation’s beauty, but we can never match it on our own. Wonder recognizes the grandeur of God in the created world.
Even now, Chestertonian wonder is increasingly important. According to Dr. Andrew Root, a professor of theology, “we live in a disenchanted time, when it is assumed that science has explained (or soon will) every arcane mystery.” Our contemporary age views the world as purely material and fully comprehensible to the human mind. Christians must live knowing such notions are false. We know there is something more. As Root goes on to say, “we have this sense of something we can’t remember; we have this feeling that maybe life isn’t as flat as we assume.” He leads us to ask: what if this missing piece is a God who is active in and around us? What if, in every moment, He gives the world its unpredictable and immeasurable volume? Cultivating a worldview marked by Chestertonian wonder is seeing the world through an enchanted lens even while everyone around us remains disenchanted.
On Mt. Marcy, I saw the way the colors faded into the horizon, the seemingly haphazard peaks, the bodies of water sparkling under the glow of the midday sun, and the endless blue sky above me. Each was a reflection of God’s glory and evidence of His presence. C.S. Lewis once remarked that creation is a messenger of God’s glory. And I agree. In that moment, I saw a glimpse of the “indescribable something” revealed. Not only was He present there, but I was reminded that He is grand and glorious, worthy of awe and gratitude. The more I live this way, the more I yearn for glimpses of Him—the more I seek Him.
By living in expectation of His presence around us, we live in wonder. Cultivating this attitude is how we can “seek His face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11).
I sometimes question how this perspective is possible given both our sinfulness and the mundanity of the world. But experiences like the one on Mt. Marcy reveal to me that wonder is possible and necessary. Indeed, our God is one who is active in the ordinary. We can appreciate the small things because He is present in them. He arrives. He acts. He makes all things new.
As we seek God, we should aspire to see His activity in the world around us. Seeing the sacred in the ordinary inspires deep-seated gratitude for His goodness and presence. Cultivating this sense of wonder can be the foundation upon which our other efforts to seek Him are built. Let us dare to seek God by engaging with our broken yet beautiful world. Let us expect that He is present.
We can choose to wake up in the morning with the expectation that we will see Him. We can be grateful, awe-inspired, and excited by remembering the nature of the God who created the world and all that is in it. To seek Him is to welcome this truth. His world is not merely full of wonders. His is a wonder-filled world. He is arriving, working, and speaking in ways that are greater than we could ever ask or imagine.