I shielded my eyes from the blaze of the sun, and let my elbow rest against the rough wood of the picnic table top. It was unbearably hot, a summer reality in North Carolina that I am still growing accustomed to. I bat at the pesky gnats swarming around my forehead and tilted my head up towards the sky.
This is what we had come to see – the sky. On this ordinary work day, in this ordinary marketing meeting, a co-worker had suggested that we meet on the rooftop patio of our office building in order to see the much-anticipated solar eclipse. And, forgetting the oppressive humidity of the south, I agreed.
We made our way through our meeting agenda, our attention punctuated by quick spats of pulling on our shared set of solar eclipse glasses and comments like, “I think it’s getting closer” or “Does it seem darker outside?” We talked about marketing strategy and then checked the time, the glasses, and the sun again in routine, just to make sure we weren’t missing out. We discussed budgets and print materials, interrupted by brief visits from co-workers’ heads as they poked them outside to see what could be seen.
And as the time drew closer, something else caught my attention. It started as a trickle as employees from every department stepped one by one onto that humid rooftop. Some stepped sheepishly out the roof letting out a knowing chuckle to others with heads arched back to the sky, while others burst onto the rooftop gregariously asking, “Has it started yet?” Where we had sat undisturbed only minutes prior, was now a small gathering of sky-gazing adults, murmuring things like “Did you see that” or, “What do you think is happening now?” Those in suits and ties and those in work pants and t-shirts donned a common wardrobe in what look like the paper glasses you get when you see a 3-D movie with your kids.
I surveyed that rooftop, letting my gaze wander past our own building to the surrounding town. It is a small town and an old town, which makes for some of the best brick buildings. No skyline here, but a rooftop view not to be overlooked. As I took in the neighborhood, much to my surprise, I noticed other rooftops and other people. I’m sure I had been looking at them, but missed them somehow in the bigger scene. So many rooftops filled with so many people. Different offices, workspaces, groups and gatherings, but one thing in common: we were all bent skyward, waiting and watching.
We were looking for awe and wonder.
And that’s what pulled me back in that moment. That’s what caught my attention on that rooftop today. All of these unexpected, unassuming adults, many of whom wouldn’t don the door of a church, were looking to the sky, in search of awe and wonder. Many of us had little in common, but this one thing we shared in those ten minutes: we wanted to be amazed. All of us – the powerful and the seemingly small – were willing, even if only for a moment, to be reminded of our temporary-ness in this universe. And so we craned back our heads, put on some silly glasses, and looked for wonder.
In moments like these, we as Christians hold out the greatest hope to a looking world. To those who strain their eyes to see the glories of the sky, we offer a God who came down from heaven to walk this earth. To those looking to nature for a spectacular display, we proclaim a God who is coming again to restore all these things – even the sky and the clouds and the sun and the moon. To those aching to be amazed, we proclaim a Christ who met us in our sin, saved us from our sin, and made a way for us to be where He is. To those watching the sky in anticipation, we hold out the very real hope that one day our God will part those clouds and come to us again.
Christian, your God is a God of wonder. He is a God of awe. And all these mysterious, wonderful, magical events in nature are whispering to us of just how much awe and wonder is due to our Creator.
With our fellow humans, we can look to the sky with great expectation. We can tilt our heads back, back, back and squint until our eyes are nearly closed as we look for miraculous things in the heavens. We can point for our neighbors to see and say things like, “Did you see that” or, “What do you think is happening now”, and tell them about the God who spoke it all into being. And we can watch the sky, with patience and perseverance, with the very real anticipation that something amazing is going to happen.
Because it is. He is coming.
Until then, let’s stay in search of awe and wonder.