Two weeks ago, I was standing in a garden on top of the Zomba Plateau in Malawi, Africa. I took the picture you see above. At nearly 7,000 feet, the plateau towers over everything around it. Looking to the southeast, I could see Mulanje Mountain nestled in tea plantations which the British left behind decades ago. In the distance to the southwest I could also see Mount Soche and Ndirande Mountain, which are landmarks around Blantyre, the city Rachel and I call our second home on planet earth.
The view was more than incredible. From my mountain-top perspective, I saw an endless panorama: Smoke gently rising from villages, old cars chugging along old roads, and vast open spaces I imagined to be filled with monkeys, birds, and bushbuck by day, and haunted by hyenas and leopards by night. Mouth and eyes gaping, I was only temporarily distracted by the baboon who was greedily eyeing my breakfast.
At some point I noticed that my breath had shallowed, and my palms felt like they were about to break out in a sweat. I was aware of my heartbeat. I wasn't aware of anything else around me. I was in awe.
Awe is a powerful concept. To me, awe is not a fleeting emotion, but more like an immersive state of mind - where I find myself completely overcome by the thing holding my attention. Being in awe is feeling swept away by a rain-swollen river. It is being taken up by something immeasurably bigger and more powerful and more beautiful than myself and delighting in every facet of it. Awe is the paradox of perfect peace and stillness in the midst of breaker-tripping power. I've found myself lost in that river while holding my newborn children, while exploring jungles in Asia and mountains in Colorado, while contemplating Rachel's love for me, and while attempting to fathom the vastness of the universe.
We experience awe at so many things He has made. Yet no awe compares to that which floods when we experience God Himself. Overcome by His presence. Swept up in His love. Devastated by His Holiness. In the midst of the thundering river of God Himself, I am little more than the smallest ant, and nothing less than His beloved child.
As followers of Jesus, we often neglect this place from which the purest worship flows. We forget that, because of Christ, we have a standing invitation into the Most Holy Place, into the Tent of Meeting, onto the Mountain of God. God longs to meet us in that place where our breath grows shallow and shaky, our palms sweat in anticipation, and our hearts pound in our chests. The river roars and we aren't there to hear it. The mountains tremble and we aren't around to feel it. The rocks cry out, in complete awe of their creator, and we don't join them there.
This writing is a simple invitation to you, Follower of Jesus, to find time this week to worship until you're lost, to pray until you're swept away, and to free-fall into the presence of the one who is immeasurably bigger and more powerful and more beautiful than you - and to delight in every facet of Him.
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. Psalms 5:7
Jeremy Williamson is the founding and lead pastor of Pathways Church in Fort Collins, Colorado.