The angel of God said, “What’s this? You ask for my name? You wouldn’t understand—it’s sheer wonder.” Judges 13:18 (MSG)

The Greatest Challenge You Will Ever Face – Sheer Wonder Series – Part 2

Go to PART 1  |  PART 2  |  PART 3  |  PART 4

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Manoah and his wife were changed after their encounter with the ‘Angel of the Lord,’ who turned out to be God himself. They were just an ordinary couple, from an underwhelming town, facing challenging and heartbreaking circumstances, and all of a sudden ‘hope’ became a part of their story.

Their story didn’t end there; it didn’t finish with a nice promise delivered in a perfectly wrapped package finished off with a stunning and symmetrical bow ready to be opened and enjoyed for the rest of their lives. Life is much more complex than that. So is wonder. Monoah's wife described her encounter with God as terror laced with glory.

One of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve ever experienced is giving birth to my children. (Don’t roll your eyes… it's ok… I’m not going to get weird on ya’ll). It's amazing to have a small life struggle their way out of you and breathe their first breath right before your eyes. To see them in their first moments… an overwhelming love rises up. It's a wonder-filled moment.

But then something else happens. Another emotion enters and is ever-present (even to this day). It’s a terror that is hard to describe except to say that I think one of the riskiest things for your heart is to want and to have a child. For those of you, and I know there are many (I was one myself for a couple of years), who are facing infertility, you already know this truth and the heartache around it. We stand with you in your pain.

The terror of not being able to completely control what happens to my children is always with me. It’s not a fear that controls me. It could be, but I work hard at making it not that. Having children is terrifying because I have no idea what the journey looks like and how it will end. But I’m “in” – involved, engaged, enraptured, entwined – heart and soul, everything I am until the day I die.

I was having a massage a few days ago (sciatica… grrr), and as my therapist and I were talking, she told me that her first daughter was born with a liver disease and died at 10 months. Her name was Emily.

Love is terrifying and glorious.

These emotions are definitely NOT exclusive to motherhood – they can be present in all kinds of situations, anything we give birth to – our relationships, careers, dreams, hopes, desires… receiving the promise is not the end game… living with it is the greatest challenge we will ever face.

Meeting God is not the greatest thing that will ever happen to you. Learning to stay awake and aware and alive to him moment by moment, day by day will be the greatest challenge you will face. To keep that “sheer wonder” alive. To not let the name of God just be a name, but to allow it to carry the whole world and eternity within and from it.

The word “wonder” is having a bit of a comeback these days, and you’ll hear it a lot around Christmas. Don’t just see the shiny glamour to it – the Christmas lights, snowflakes, gifts, beauty, laughter… but be brave and explore the true nature of wonder. It doesn’t exclude the bad, the terrifying, and the horrific. It doesn’t ignore the terrible things that happen and the challenges we face. It draws them close and compels us to look deeply into it and see the divine threaded through it all.

Wonder doesn’t ignore the terrible things that happen and the challenges we face. Click to Tweet

How can we ask God what his name means? Who he really is? How can we define the answer? He is sheer wonder, and our greatest challenge is to always see him that way.

Go to Part 3 – His Name is Sheer Wonder »

(Join us for our exclusive Advent Series – get a sample here »)

Written by Liz Milani

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