"May we never lose our wonder... may we never lose our wonder; Wide-eyed and mystified -- may we be just like a child; Staring at the beauty of our King.
You are beautiful in all Your ways."
I am blessed to be living in a small town with close enough proximity to the beach where I can hop on a bus and catch beautiful sunsets, like the ones I witnessed last weekend in Santa Elena, Ecuador. Santa Elena is a province just south of where I live, Manabí, and it includes the most western peninsula of mainland Ecuador. People visit this area all times of the year, but during the months of December and January, our coastline welcomes its best weather, making it a primetime to have beach days and sundowners.
At around 5pm, the sun begins to make its descent towards the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. Depending on cloud cover, colors change, the water reflects the light, and sometimes it's impossible to remove one's sunglasses because of the brightness hitting your face at 90 degrees. Many people gather on the Malecón (boardwalk) with their children, friends, enamorados, parents, and each sunset becomes a community event; the earth performing its daily matinee to an audience captured in awe, turning our faces from the sun's rays to the moon's nightly glow.
I stood there on Sunday night and as the sun turned a deep orange, similar to the photo above, I declared out loud -- "yep, there must be a God."
I mean, have you ever sat in the presence of nature and was just so moved by its beauty that there just could be no possible way it was made with human hands? Honestly, if we knew how to control the sun by now, I don't even believe it would still exist in all its glory (climate change, I'm looking at you).
If you have known me for long enough, or have read enough of my work here or over at my personal blog, you'd know that faith is a very central part of my life. I was raised in a faith-filled home, abounding in joy and peace... but I didn't always know what faith meant for me, or why I needed it, or in whom I could put my faith in completely. I questioned faith's purpose for the majority of the last decade, even as I (mainly out of tradition and comfort) went and actively participated in church life. I was the person who stuck around because church felt good, but not necessarily because I thought it was a good idea. I was culturally Christian, but spiritually agnostic.
For the over-analyzer that I am and love, this wasn't a very sustainable way to lay claim to faith. So I wrestled (and am still wrestling, tbh!) with the idea of faith and how I should apply this in my daily life, in my decisions, in my service in Ecuador, in my future, and with whom I choose to spend these adventures. I sought good counsel from people I trust, and made a lot of "if you're real, God, show me something" prayers...
In 2015, He showed up for me as I stood on the Great Wall of China, inundated with a wonder so profound that my heart felt like it was going to explode just standing there.
I looked around at the rolling hills that stretched for endless miles after a day of traveling and walking on my own, posing for pictures with Chinese tourists who asked, observing the thousands of other humans captured by the sights. And I knew in that moment that God exists. That beyond the remarkable engineering feat of the Wall, He created all of these mountains, all over the world and somehow also decided that I should be a part of the experience.
The basis of God as the creator of all things is the foundation for my faith in his son Jesus today. I am always reminded when I see beautiful sunsets on beaches, or when I'm flying high above a volcano, or just sitting on my roof in Paján that there is a power greater than me at work, aligning all things, wanting to bring joy into my soul. I want that power guiding me for the rest of my life.
These days, before I make my biggest decisions, I ask if what I'm doing adds beauty to the world, or just myself. Because in a world this big and beautiful, there's gotta be a greater #lifegoal than just making me happy. It is my heart's desire to bring my piece of life's beauty to those around me.
I won't get all the answers I seek, but I can ask for more sunsets from a God who seems to really be good at making those on the coast of Ecuador.
May I never lose my wonder.
Song: Wonder by Bethel Live & Amanda Cook