Book review: Awe

Forgetting the awesome and glorious One Who made it all and holds it all together by the sheer power of His magnificent will, will always insert me into the center. This means that no story will be more important to me than my story. . . Awe of self, worship of self, underlies every form of self-destructive living.

page 61, para. 3

Man, it took me way too long to finish this book! It was a good read but not an easy one. Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do is by Paul David Tripp. If you’ve read anything by him before – whether his weekly devotional to your inbox or another book – you know that his writing style is very direct. Awe was no exception. However, its deep truths resonated with me and I would recommend this book.

The theme of the book is that every single person is wired for awe. Something will always capture our attention. Every single one of us has a deep desire to be astounded, awestruck, pleasured from the day we are born until the day we leave this earth. The problem arises when the amazing things God has created claims our focus and praise more than the God Who made them.

Each chapter of the book has a single word title, such as “Ministry,” “Complaint,” and “Work,” in which Paul breaks down how and why awe affects that particular area of our life. He says several times in different ways: We don’t have a lust problem, a drinking problem, materialism problem, anger problem, or any other problem we self-diagnose; we have an awe problem. If we have a wrong view of God, if Who He is does not captivate our awe, if we ignore the truth that scripture gives us about our Lord, we will certainly have problems with all those things.

I liked this book for two reasons. First of all, he writes a lot of things I have known for a while, but in a different way. Here is what I mean. As a Wilds staff member, we are trained to deal with the heart issue. My campers could have problems with pornography, lying, listening to bad music, disobedience, and so on. But none of those are the real issue. The issue is their heart: they had a wrong view of God. Paul’s book says essentially the same thing, as explained in the above paragraph.

But more than agreeing with what he wrote, I enjoyed this book because God used it to point out some things in my own heart that need to change. The chapter called “Complaint” was especially convicting. I used to be a much more positive person but I find myself complaining frequently. And the more I complain, the more I complain about silly things! But even if I have a “good” reason, it doesn’t matter. When I’m disappointed or frustrated because of a situation or incident, I must stop and think, “What am I actually upset about? Who is this directed toward?” If I actually track it all the way back, I’m usually upset at God: disappointed that He didn’t do what I wanted Him to do, frustrated that He let something happen that I didn’t like. But Paul writes, “If I live at the center of my God-given capacity for awe – that is, if awe of self has replaced awe of God – then I will invariably conclude that God is not always good, and loads of complaints will follow. If I am at the center, I will define good as what is comfortable, predictable, pleasurable, natural, and easy. . . But God is good. His goodness is the foundation stone of His awesome qualities.”

While the writing style is not necessarily my favorite (not a lot of paragraph breaks), I appreciate Paul David Tripp’s candid honesty and scripture-backed truth. Some of it feels a little repetitive, but I think if Christians everywhere would really GET THIS, there would be real revival.

One last quote to close:

Our problem is not that the “good life” has passed us by, that people have faile us, or that life has been hard. All these things have happened to us because we live in a broken world. And if our contentment rests on life being easy, comfortable, and pleasurable, we’ll have no contentment this side of eternity. We complain so much not because we have horizontal problems but because we have a vertical problem. Only when the awe of God rules your heart will you be able to have joy even when people disappoint you and life gets hard.

page 105, para. 3

If you ever check out this book, let me know what you think! Happy reading 🙂

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