On Our Knees in Awe

by Kate Cannon

Is there anything known that truly causes us to be in awe?  According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of awe is "a feeling of great respect, usually mixed with fear or surprise.”  This understanding may seem foreign, even difficult for some of us to understand as we live in a world that is so broken.  Awe may seem out of reach and quite contrary to our daily experiences in life.  And yet, my son can always seem to find the awe in the everyday.  He has a gift to point out that which is awe-inspiring to him, and will share it with anyone who will see.  His perspective, full of wonder and awe, brings joy to me and so many who know and love him.

I was recently doing my grocery shopping at a store that I frequently visit.  I have learned to become more careful to use coupons since I am not currently a self-made millionaire, and I am trying to raise my family in a most financially responsible manner.  Coupons, at one point in my life were a complete waste of paper and time, as I thoughtlessly tossed that free money into the trash and laughed at anyone who would make the effort to fool with them.  Oh the days of being single and childless, on which I reflect with other memories of frivolity and some of the mistakes that came from without having the grounding and helpful sense of commitment and love I have now found in having my dear family.  

Currently, I find coupons for "$4.00 off of my next shopping order" to be a useful, helpful, and necessary part of my weekly shopping checkout experience, and so I take great care and time to select items for my shopping cart based upon the coupons in the tattered envelope I insist upon carrying around every aisle on every visit.  Some people ask if I am really that serious about them, saying, “Really, can’t you just not worry about it?” if I have forgotten the envelope at home.  Or there are others who ask, “Why do you waste your time messing with all of that?” And then there are the employees who must face me every week, most all of whom at this particular store are helpful and will patiently wait for me to unload my very full cart, with the help of my two precious children doing their best to lift cases of water and kitty litter on to the conveyor belt carefully so as not do decimate the lovely strawberries they also just carefully selected.  We always try to purposely shop during hours which are not high in traffic (yes, I actually do shop at 7 am on a Saturday morning when I would rather be at home in my pajamas watching cartoons with my kiddos), and if there happens to be a line, we attempt to get into the longest one, just because I know we will take about 20 minutes to check out when it is our turn.  Clearly, I am trying to be respectful of those who are shopping, as well as the employees, as I would never get into that sweet-sounding line that sings at me from across the front of the store “This lane, 15 items or less.”  Actually, I have happy thoughts about that line.  I long to be in that line sometimes, where I see someone with a half gallon of milk and some caramel brownie ice cream, as they casually find a $10 bill, checkout with their items and change, and are already in the car in 15 seconds or less.  Now that is awe-inspiring.  

On one particularly quiet morning at this store, I was checking out with all of my stuff in the lane I am always in, expect this order had all of my Thanksgiving items on it plus all of my regular groceries for the week: turkey, cranberries, bread, celery, mushrooms, green beans, potatoes, onions, milk, butter, eggs, paper towels, toilet paper, and the list goes on and on.  It was a fully bulging cart, and I was thankful that I had enough money to buy these things for my family, and I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, and looking forward to dinner, and happy I had my coupons.  And then I saw her.  The cashier who will not, under any circumstances, run my coupons properly.  We go way back, and I am sure she is a lovely person, but I have had some unfortunate experiences with her.  I began frantically looking for another cashier, but - that’s right - I remembered, it’s 8:03 am on a Saturday morning, and there were only two employees working, total, in the whole store, so another lane was not an option. Dang it. 

I also began to feel that nagging, annoying, irritating sense of my old self beginning to bubble under the surface because I had a cart full of important items, and A LOT of coupons. It is the part of my personality that can be sharp-tonged, quick-witted, impatient, and also very condescending, unkind, and controlling.  I really hate that part of me, because it is pride at its worst: self-righteousness cloaked in brazen aggression and overbearing power that is hurtful, damaging, and also yet very effective in the world. That personality gets things done, and it also leave chaos, fear, and anger in its wake.  I know that part of my old self, my pre-Christ self, and I have really worked with the Holy Spirit and had many discussions with Him about replacing that with the Fruit of the Spirit, understood plainly as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Lord, please help me, I silently began to pray.  At that same moment, my dear son started crying, loudly, and holding his ear.  Wow, really?  Is he seriously getting an ear infection right here, right now?  No way… we are supposed to leave for our first trip ever to Disney World in less than two hours and I need to get my mom from the airport…what am I going to do?!  Our items had been carefully unloaded, and finally I had enough room at the back of my order to put those coupons down, as I do every week on every order and every cashier runs them, and I save some money and get my groceries and go home feeling like I have done my part to help my husband and our bank account while providing for my children food and health.  I was thinking through all of that while paying with my credit card in the machine, and sure enough, she closed out my order and totaled it without those coupons. She casually handed the receipt, approximately the length of the Declaration of Independence, and my unused coupons back to me and said, “You did not hand your coupons to me in time, so I didn’t run them.”  There are many things my old self wanted to say, and do, at that very moment.  I looked at her, and then I looked at my children, one of whom was in a great deal of pain, the other who was being quiet and helpful and patient, and I said out loud, quietly, but audibly as I looked at that cart, my wallet, my children, and those coupons, “What are You trying to teach me?”  

I think this is the shift, though, friends. When we find ourselves in less-than-desirable situations, we seek His wisdom and discernment; we seek Him. I didn’t really realize that was what I had done, though. I only realized it later, when I had exited that store, in which I spend thousands of dollars a year, feeling frustrated, angry, and slighted, and recognized that I had not completely lost my cool in front of my children nor made a fool of myself by berating that employee or taking it all out on one or both of my children. I unloaded that mass of groceries, picked my mother up from the airport less than an hour later, made it to the doctor’s office with my son (who had a terrible ear infection that day), and we did get to go to Disney, too.  I realized it all when we were on the drive to Orlando, that we are in the constant presence of the Almighty, the One who is in control of all things at all times, and that if we look for Him in the everyday, we can be in a state of awe where we “bow down in worship and kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” as Psalm 95:6,7 remind me.  

This verse is especially interesting to me, as I am not typically in awe of anything. I am never bowing down or kneeling for any reason.  In a dream, my brother who passed away from very sad and unfortunate circumstances at 25 years old, came and said to me, “Kack, everyone there needs to be on their knees in awe,” and then disappeared.  I did not understand anything that would be so awe-inducing that I would ever get on my knees.  I could not imagine what he meant by being in awe, especially how I was feeling that Saturday morning. But I looked up that verse, after waking from that odd dream, to see if it was anywhere in God’s Word, because, I rationalized to myself, that could have been one of those weird dreams that doesn’t mean anything … And, I found it, in Psalm 95 and in John’s vision of seeing Christ in Revelation 1:17a. In His living, breathing Word, we are called to be in awe of His power, majesty, and care for us, even to the point that we can no longer stand. We are literally “on our knees in awe.”  Then, I remembered how I felt when my daughter was born, and they laid her in my arms for the fist time.  I was in awe.  Falling-to-my-knees-in-adoration, with-the-utmost-respect, and in-holy-fear-awe… at her life and from Him whom she came.  Then I had another flash, of Christ, who could have come in all of that power and majesty, and with all of the heavenly host to reconcile everything here that feels so broken.  But He didn’t.  He came weak, and helpless, and lived as we do, temped and tried under the most trying of circumstances, for us. Those words about awe mean everything to me now, and I am so grateful for them. He loves us even when our worst side is threatening to show up, if we will simply seek Him first above all things as Matthew chapter 6 discusses, then He will provide everything we could ever need, and we will be in awe of Him and Him alone.