Written on September 26, 2014. By Shari Norvell
Twice a year, at the facility where we meet in Tulsa, we have the honor of being visited for a few days by a remnant church of the Azuza Street Revival. These impassioned ones, spend several days worshipping and sharing hearts with each other. We have several meetings that coincide with theirs and it pierces my heart each time our worship collides (to come together with solid or direct impact). Our fused exclamation, resonance and breath alters our atmosphere as it journeys to Heaven.
Our most recent intertwine, was Thanksgiving week 2012. As we left the building for the night, I asked Pappa a question, “If there was one thing you would want us to carry from the season of Azuza to where you are taking us now, what would it be?” His answer, “Awe”.
Awe is a little word with a immensely big meaning! Awe is a first step towards transformation. It takes us beyond the limits of our understanding. It delivers us to a place of marvel, wonder and admiration. It leaves us astonished. Well, it doesn’t leave us, it grafts us, as awe (Strongs #1481) means to dwell with, abide, remain, sojourn or journey. Awe grafts us to the Astonisher!! It is what Matthew described right after he witnessed the paralytic being healed through forgiveness and right before he (Matthew) received the invitation of his life.
And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men. As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:7-8
I love how this reads in the original text. Jesus said to Matthew, “Be following me.” He implored him to never stop! Never stop dwelling, never stop journeying with him. Jesus knew things would occur that could cause Matthew to waiver. Things that could lead Matthew to the opposite end of awe, fear. Unless, he dwelt, remained, journeyed with Jesus.
When we are in awe, there is no place for fear. Think about that! There simply isn’t room for it. This is why Pappa goes to such lengths to invite us to remember. Why He ever seeks to remind us, which means to graft us to who He truly is. And who we become when we are with Him.
Along our history, are praise altars of the invitation to awe. One of these that moves me deeply is found in the story of Gideon (Judges 6-8). The angel of the Lord comes to Gideon, who is a faithful judge. He has become accustomed to settling the disputes of the people, so peace remains. But there is a dispute the Lord wants to settle that in the moment, seems bigger than Gideon.
A simple word was given, “Go”. And then Gideon asks a mighty question in 6:13. He asks, “Where are the wonders?” “Where is the awe?” The Lord reminded him that he knew. He told him to take what he had. Gideon asked for signs, but no sign would answer his question. But awe would lead him to “be following” until he saw the answer was in him!
And so, Gideon said yes and assembled an army of 32,000. His confidence must have been bolstering a bit. Until… I love Pappa’s ‘untils’! They are wild and dangerous. Until, God told him his army was too big. It wasn’t about the number. It was about a sifting. The Lord wanted the victory to come from awe! It had been many years since Joshua and it generations since the testimonies of what God had done flowed freely. God didn’t want Gideon to lead an army of those who didn’t know him. He wanted a collision of men and awe. He wanted a people who had no room for fear, because they were full of Him. He wanted to show the world where the awe was. And that it was greater than any army, all enemies.
Gideon assembles the men. He tells any of them who are afraid, they can go. To them it must have seemed like a freedom, but it was truly an invitation meant to bind them to the One who would never let them go. The rope that would have captured them, awe.
22,000 men left, going back to what seemed safe. 22 is the number Pappa has given us to represent adulthood. 22,000 missed the moment to grow up and headed back to their tents, hemmed in with their fear and doubt. Later, they would hear of the great victory, and know they had missed His tent of covenant. And awe would become their great longing.
“They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. Malachi 3:16-18