I can remember the first time I heard God of Wonders sung in church.
I hated it.
This was around the time I started questioning why we sang what we did in church and my young, untrained mind was particularly offended by singing about universes and galaxies.
“Sacrilege!” I said to myself in my best Lewis Black impression, “God isn’t in space! That’s preposterous!”
Eventually I grew up and God of Wonders became one of my favorite worship tunes but the desire to say God isn’t somewhere is tempting still. “That’s Christian, that’s secular,” the old refrain goes. It’s easy to guess that the song with no minor chord, or the book cover with heavily-clad Amish girls are “Christian” and what’s “secular” is actually entertaining.
Sorry, that’s an obvious oversimplification but I think you get where I’m going with this without my continuing rudeness.
It’s easy to divide up pop-culture and say what belongs to God and what doesn’t. But the divide shows up subtly in the rest of our lives too. Rushing rivers, storms on the oceans, purple mountain’s majesty – all God’s. Nebraska? Nope, completely Godless. Joy? Ecstasy? Outrage at Starbucks? Godly emotions. Boredom? That’s got nothing to do with God.
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”
The angels in Isaiah 6 were singing around God’s throne: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” God’s reach is, sorry Little Tommy, beyond the heavens and spinning galaxies and it reaches down, claiming every atom as his own. Poet Gerard Manly Hopkins wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
All things great and small; all the beasts of the fields and all that swims in the sea; every creeping, crawling bug in the dirt and every blue jay nesting in the tree; each bored moment checking Facebook again and each work meeting that could’ve been an email; every song on your iPod and every movie on Netflix; each wedding, each funeral, and each moment in-between; you, your family, your neighbor, your enemy; all of it, every last bit of it, belongs to God.
We opened our time of singing by not singing but by watching a video my friend Aimee showed me called “YHWH” by the YHWH Project. It’s an animated spoken word piece that I think stretched my image of God and what is His or isn’t. Listening to it sounded like reading the last few chapters of Job or the Psalms. From there we moved to singing God of Wonders: “Lord of all creation”, “God of Wonders beyond our galaxy”, “Hallelujah! To the Lord of Heaven and Earth” ending at “Hallelujah! Oh what a savior!” when we sang Man of Sorrows.
It would be easy, easy, easy to say everything is God’s, the earth is full of His glory, that the world is charged with His grandeur and yet actually lose sight of God. His transcendant qualities making Him seem distant, far-off, and abstract and though He is those things He is also not just that. The Lord of All Creation who spoke and set all things in motion, the God of Wonders who has told the mountains how high and the valleys how low they will go, who by His very nature demands praise, wonder, and awe, this same God can be pinpointed at an exact moment in human history. But unlike the old gods sitting up there on their mountains who only meddled in human affairs when they had something to benefit the God I’m speaking of enterted into the human story when there was only sorrow to gain.
Our time together singing/watching that video began with a time to engage our imaginations and enlarge our view of God and then narrow in with each song until we ended singing the praises of a particular person, Jesus Christ – the man of sorrows, who existed in a particular moment in time in a particular place on Earth and did a particular thing.
You can learn more about the YHWHproject at yhwhproject.org. There you can read the actual poem. In this instance, I think the poem yields more rewards when read instead of being simply heard. Or, at least different rewards. The more I’ve watched and read it the more I’ve enjoyed it.
We sang the following songs alongside the video:
- Open Up Our Eyes by Elevation Worship
- God of Wonders by Third Day (and everybody else from 20 years ago)
- Man of Sorrows by David Potter
- God is Alive by Fee
Attached is a playlist from Spotify but why don’t you just go ahead and give these songs a purchase.