What Astonishes You?

Napoleon's Tomb in Paris
Napoleon’s Tomb in Paris

My husband was invited to attend a pilgrimage of the steps of Saint Vincent in France by his employer. France..10 days. Of course, count me in!

Who in their right mind would turn down the opportunity to eat chocolate croissants and enjoy a latte in Paris? 

However, I’ll admit–growing up in the Protestant church, we were a bit green on this word “pilgrimage.” We’ve never tried to trace a person’s steps before.

On our first day, we were asked to pay attention to “What astonishes you?” When I think of the word astonish, I think of being awe-struck or amazed by something. Webster defines the word astonished as, “greatly surprised or impressed.” We got off the plane and drove to see the Notre Dame cathedral, followed by glimpses of the Eiffel Tower. In the morning, we were asked the question, “What astonished you yesterday?”

Answers in the group varied from the awesomeness of the Notre Dame cathedral to the crowded streets, from the aroma of croissants to the lock key bridge and from the breath-taking Eiffel Tower to cobblestone streets. I, too, found myself marveling at the things man had made rather than The True Creator.

How easy it is for us to be amused by the music rather than The Music Maker, dazzled by the invention rather than The Inventor and surprised by the creativeness of the art rather than The Artist.

After all, is it not God Himself who has bestowed such gifts and talents on all of mankind? Should we not give credit where credit is due?

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

With the end of school approaching and graduation season upon us, it’s a good reminder for all of us to remember it’s not what we have done or accomplished, but rather the great grace of giftedness that God has given. It is God who has given certain gifts and talents.

We are told that every good and perfect gift is from above..not some gifts or occasional gifts. No, every gift sounds all-encompassing to me.

So, when we are tempted to compare our children or ourselves to others, we can end up being robbed of joy and seething in jealousy. However, when we look at the giftedness of others as a gift from God, we can much easier join in the celebration. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we could sit back and enjoy awards ceremonies and athletic competitions–not looking out for our own interests but rather merely enjoying and appreciating the giftedness that God has given? (Trust me, I have a long way to go on this one, too. Sit next to me at any sporting event that my child is playing in and watch how many times my husband taps me on the knee as a reminder to keep my mouth shut. I’m a work-in-progress, too.) That’s why I needed this reminder today. A reminder to be astonished where astonishment is truly due:

Mark 7:37, “People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Hab 1:5, ““Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”