I can remember looking out the window in a moment of wonder. I knew it was all a fairy tale…probably. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and I was excited like…it was the night before Christmas. There was a hotly debated topic that season among my first-grader peers. “You know it’s all made up, right?” one kid would say, “Santa isn’t real.”
"Oh ya?!" fired another, "Well, how do you explain the missing cookies? Think about it, man!"
Although I had passively agreed that indeed, Santa was made-up, I found myself peeking through the window blinds that night at the cloudy moon. Everyone was asleep, it seemed. Prime time for that beardy guy to sneak up on us. What if Santa had everyone fooled? What if he could turn invisible to everyone except curious 6 year-olds*? What if my secret hope wasn’t just silliness?
What if the world was much more exciting than I thought it was?
There is still a childlike sense of wonder in me, but it usually keeps quiet. I often don’t even realize it’s still around.
But every now and then, something happens. I see something, I hear a story, I feel something, or at least I think I feel something…I sense a nudge, an opportunity to ask, “What if?”
Yesterday, I had such a momentˆ.
I was Skyping my friend Jonathan, and he shared about his worship leading experiences of late. “Ya man, it’s been pretty awesome. We’ve been encountering the angelic.”
That’s cool, I thought. Jonathan is the spiritual type, able to sense things that others can’t, like the presence of angels for instance. But he clarified, saying:
"Like, they sing along. Audibly. Everyone can hear them. It’s crazy!"
I was shocked. Audible sounds of angels singing? What the? I’ve seen some crazy stuff (like this, for instance). But this blew my mind. What would that even sound like? Jonathan directed me to Elias Argüello for a reference point. Apparently this guy would spend hours alone worshipping his Savior. Then one day, he began hearing sounds, out-of-nowhere, what-in-the-world type sounds. They became so frequent, he decided to try and capture it on a worship record. Here’s a video. (The angels become audible at about 4 minutes in, and start getting super loud around 7 minutes.)
I watched the video several times. And it welled up inside me, that sense of wonder. Forgotten, yet familiar like bumping into your best friend from middle school.
There’s a hunger that exists in me, a hope that maybe the world I see is merely a veil, and that somehow someone would lift it for a brief moment to reveal the mystery beneath. And when I hear something like Jonathan’s story, I have a choice to make. Will I acknowledge that perhaps there are realms, aspects of life and God that are totally beyond my understanding and experience?
It’s an emotional risk. ”What if?” is a question of high stakes.
When I see an attractive young lass, I can let myself hope that she is a quality person, maybe even my soulmate. I can ask, “What if?” There’s some emotional risk involved here, but it’s small. If she turns out to be a chain-smoking, puppy-kicking, Nickelback-loving diva, I can handle that. There are other fish in the sea.
But with stuff like angels, with miracles, with Jesus…it’s a different risk. What if you let the six-year old in you peer through the window blinds to see if God would show up? If you let yourself wonder if he had actually been sneaking around this whole time? If you actually decided to summon bravery and ask him to show up? And then what if…you didn’t see anything? It’s worse than finding out your dream girl’s favorite song is “How You Remind Me˚.” Because unless you live in ancient Greece, there aren’t many fish in the “god” sea.
Where would you go if the supposed Ultimate, the End All Be All turns out to be less than what you let yourself hunger for?
I suppose it is for fear of that question’s answer that there are many agnostics, folks who “suppose there is something greater,” but won’t actually open their heart’s door to find out what that might be. And I suppose it is for failed attempts to satisfy that hunger that many Christians resign themselves to religion, replacing a relational person with a book. Sure it’s kind of boring, but at least it’s safe˙.
I found my shock at Jonathan’s angel story interesting. I would never question the Biblical accounts of a chorus of heavenly hosts. And I could easily believe a story of wacky demonic manifestation. But hearing angels singing right now, today, while I worship feels so bizarre. It seems that I have subconsciously based my expectations about how God works on my previous experience.
Turns out, there’s more available to experience than I ever thought possible, if only I would let myself wonder.
Apparently more deep than funny today,
* OK, fine. I was 17.
ˆ Or “momes,” as I say in my native tongue of abbreves.
˚ Sure, I could’ve linked to it. But I didn’t. Because I care about you.
˙ A better word here would be predictable. Predictability gives you a comfortable but false sense of security. Religion isn’t safe at all, really.