What gives you the gift of goose bumps?
The Grand Canyon. A hurricane. The Hallelujah Chorus. A starry night in the desert. The birth of a child. Connect the dots between these items, and what do you get? A sense of awe. Each has the power to give us goose bumps.
Awe comes from being overwhelmed by greatness. We feel it when we stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon. When we cower in the basement during a raging hurricane. When we rise to our feet during the Hallelujah Chorus, look up at the Milky Way, or witness the birth of a baby.
When we feel awe, we get goose bumps. Our body is telling us that we are standing in the presence of greatness, and seeing something we have never seen before.
The writer of Psalm 145 points us to God, the most awe-inspiring of all powers. “One generation will praise your works to the next one, proclaiming your mighty acts,” he says. “They will speak of the power of your awesome deeds” (Psalm 145:4, 6). Because God is both mighty and good, the reaction of God’s people is to stand in awe.
God is like Aslan the Lion in C.S. Lewis’s book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the course of this Christian fantasy, the character named Susan asks Mr. Beaver the question of whether Aslan the Lion is safe.
“Safe?” replied Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Our God is like Aslan in that he is isn’t safe, but he’s good. He is a king who gives us goose bumps. “They will rave in celebration of your abundant goodness,” predicts the psalm; they will say, “The LORD is merciful and compassionate, very patient, and full of faithful love. The LORD is good to everyone and everything; God’s compassion extends to all his handiwork!” (verses 7-9). We naturally want to worship the God who is so good and loving and compassionate.
Our God truly is an awesome God, one who created the world out of nothing and said that it was good. God liberated his people from captivity in Egypt, turning the Red Sea into dry land so that the Hebrews could escape. God sent his Son into the world so that everyone who believes in him would not perish, but would have eternal life.
So, crank up the Hallelujah Chorus. Take a walk in the desert under a starry sky. Look into face of a baby. Attend a service of worship. Your awe won’t make you feel awful. Instead, it will make you want to praise the God who has shown you such mercy, compassion and love.
I stand in awe of you, Lord, and praise you for your goodness. Amen.