I grew up in the early 80’s, so the word ‘awesome’ was ingrained in my vocabulary. Every generation seems to have its catch phrases, and this was certainly the way many expressed themselves in those days. Over the past few years, I have been working to systematically eradicate the word from my speech. Those of you who grew up in the 80’s can appreciate how difficult a task this has been! My reasoning stems from the actual definition of the word. I don’t want to get too technical, but to paraphrase Webster, awesome simply means something that inspires awe. To complete the picture, the dictionary defines awe as “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime”.
How many times in your life have you come across something that inspired awe in the depths of your soul? Read the definition again. I think you’ll agree that “awesome” is a word that has become greatly overused in our language. Yet looking around our world, there is much in which we can truly stand before in awe. A beautiful stream that flows gently over rocks on a mountainside or the birth of a baby doe in the midst of the forest; God’s creation is truly awe-inspiring. At the center of all things awesome stands our Holy God. If ever there was a time to speak the word, “awesome”, it is when we are in His presence, observing His Creation or experiencing His love.
The universe is held together by His Word. The earth produces food and the skies burst forth with rain at His command and by His measure. Every atom of matter that supports us exists because of the design and providence of our Creator. Nothing we discover on earth is new; it has been there waiting to be found since the beginning of time. Time itself is the creation of our infinitely wise and intelligent God. Without Him, time and matter cease to exist and our history would be obliterated in the blink of an eye. In light of His power and creativity, our common use of the word, “awesome”, becomes pathetic and ridiculous.
This is why I am now careful about my use of the word. Plays made by professional sports teams are entertaining and demonstrate a high level of skill, but they are not awesome. A moving play might stir our emotions, but it is not awesome. The simple deeds accomplished by our children may swell us with pride, but surely they do not invoke emotions that combine dread and wonder, and they are rarely inspired by authority!
God is awesome, and nothing else in this world truly qualifies to be represented by this word. His creation is awesome because it reflects His essence. Love is awesome because it reveals how He cares for each of us. Hope is awesome only inasmuch as it allows us to experience His mercy and His grace. There is nothing awesome apart from our God.