After a three-hour climb we sat perched on the scree, halfway up Mount Taranaki in New Zealand, surrounded by a vast expanse of tranquil clear blue sky, when the calmness was broken by a puff of wind brushing against my face.
Suddenly something that looked like a tiny cotton wool object, the size of a football appeared a few feet in front of me and started slowly expanding. I sat there enthralled and amazed as I was witnessing the birth of a cloud, right in front of my eyes.
Within 20 minutes half the sky was covered in cloud and we decided it was time to end our rest and start climbing the scree again. However by the time we had finished ascending it, we were in a complete whiteout.
An hour ago we could see for miles, but now we could barely see one foot in front of us. How was it possible one puff of wind could change the atmosphere and create something that was now completely engulfing us?
Fortuitously, as we commenced the next stage of our ascent, the boulder climbing, we met up with an experienced German climber. He was able to guide us up the boulders through the thick fog, to the top of Mount Taranaki, where we broke through the cloud into the bright, rich blue sky again.
On top of the mountain we could see the cloud below and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Climbing to the top of the mountain had been a dream. The achievement of a goal.
But, I also knew I had witnessed something special in God’s creation. God’s hand on the mountain as the cloud was formed.
This was a moment of awe.
Moments of awe
As I was recalling this story it got me thinking about the other times in my life when I have experienced awe.
Here are a few:
¨ Watching the sun rise early in the morning off Wainui beach, Gisborne.
¨ Writing my first song.
¨ Walking into the Pantheon in Rome and marvelling at its 2,000 year old construction and architecture.
¨ Witnessing the birth of my children, their first words and steps.
¨ Learning to water ski. The moment I was able to stand up in the water.
¨ After hours of methodical application, the one stroke from a paint brush that brought a painting to life.
¨ The first time I heard Selling England by the Pound by Genesis.
¨ Catching the top of the wave when boogie boarding.
¨ Watching George, my border collie puppy, catching a ball or frisbee in his mouth while running at full speed.
¨ Watching my leg grow out (one leg was shorter than the other) as someone prayed for me.
¨ Hitting the six off the back foot over the bowlers head. Admittedly the boundaries were on the short side.
¨ The acceleration from a standing start in my cousin’s Porsche.
Some of these moments appeared unexpectantly, out of the blue. While, others took months and even years of practice and were reached through small steps.
What have been your moments of awe?
What new moments of awe are you in the process of creating?
Currently I’m learning to play Stairway to Heaven on the piano. My awe moment will be when I am able to play it without reading the notes.
As we navigate through 2022 and put the difficulties of 2020 and 2021 behind us, let us be reminded that new moments of awe are waiting for us.
Our world is not finite but full of possibilities and wonder.
Elijah and the cloud
Elijah the prophet also knew about awe.
After he had proven the power of the Lord on Mount Carmel, he told King Ahab that the severe drought was about to end. Soon there would be heavy rain.
Elijah prayed for rain and would not stop praying until the drought ended. He even sent his servant out repeatedly to look for the sign of rain coming.
Finally, the servant reported, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.”
1 Kings chapter 18, verses 43-44
“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”’
Elijah knew that the small cloud meant rain was on its way. God was about to do a big work. This was a moment of awe for Elijah.
This is also a reminder that even when we see God moving in small ways among us, we can have faith for greater things to come.
Wayne worked in the media for more than 30 years before leaving to follow a call to set up The Daily Encourager, a values based media showcasing the best of New Zealand society. He has a passion for Jesus, enjoys walking, ball sports, the arts and song writing.