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Recover The WOW-Factor

Sherry was an attractive girl – very attractive.  She dressed well, had a great smile, a warm personality, and an infectious giggle.  Her favorite word was WOW!  She could not speak three sentences without inserting that word somewhere in her conversation.

I met Sherry in the AGAPE Club – the Christian club that met before school hours at my high school.  I was President and Sherry was my Vice President.  I found myself praying for Sherry “without ceasing” – as the scripture tells us to pray.

I had a car.  It was a cool care – a 1964 Plymouth Valiant with push button transmission.  Nobody else in the student lot at my high school had a car as cool as mine.  Poor Sherry did not have a car.  She had to ride the bus.  The bus was not the proper place for a good Christian girl, so I offered to give her a ride.

Sherry was really something.  Every time I saw her, my palms began to sweat, my heart skipped a beat, and I got butterflies in my stomach.

“Why don’t you just ask the girl out on a date?” my youth minister advised.  “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“The worst thing that could happen is that she might say ‘No!’  I hate rejection!”  I replied.

“Stop being an idiot!” my youth minister replied. “We had one of those youth ministers who really knew how to connect with a teenager.   “Just ask the girl out!”

So, I did.  Sherry and I went on a Saturday afternoon picnic.  Until they adequately knew and felt they could trust a boy, Sherry’s parents preferred that their daughter date during daylight hours in wide-open places.

By our third date, I had charmed her parents and Sherry and I were allowed to go out in the evening.  We went to eat pizza and see a movie and I had her home well before her curfew.  We sat on the porch in front of her house.

My palms were sweaty, my heart was skipping every other beat, and I felt the butterflies in my stomach.  Sherry leaned into my direction.  I leaned in her direction.  We kissed.  Now I know a fellow is not supposed to kiss and tell, but it has been more than 30 years, and none of you know Sherry, so I think I am safe here.  It is not as if I had never kissed a girl before, but this was different.  Without going into the mechanics just let me say that this was my first REAL kiss.  When the kiss was over, I just had to say something.  The only one word that came to my mind was “WOW!”

Have you every experienced the WOW factor?  Have you ever experienced something so overwhelming that you just have to say something?  Maybe you said the word WOW, or perhaps is was some other expression of amazement and joyful passion.

I remember standing at the front of a church.  Music began to place and the congregation assembled stood up in respect.  Jeana came around the corner wearing a white dress.  She carried a bouquet of flowers.  I leaned over to my best man and said,   “She looks really good!”

“WOW!”

I was in the hospital delivery room when my daughter Michelle was born.  I held her in my arms and I all about the death threats Jeana had made toward me during labor.  I was holding my daughter in my arms.

“WOW!”

I remember when my son Michael got his first base hit in little league baseball.  He had gone the entire season without hitting the ball.  It was now the last game.  It was his last opportunity to get on base.  Some of you were there!  Michael hit the ball and arrived on first base.  I jumped up and down and screamed like I was crazy.

“WOW!”

There have been other WOW moments.  Some are connected with my faith and connection to the church, like when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, like when I was baptized, like when I experienced a fresh awakening to God’s amazing grace.

“WOW!” “WOW!”  “WOW!”

My palms were sweaty, my heart skipped a beat, and there butterflies in my stomach.  These are moments that cannot be qualified or quantified.  They are moments that cannot be explained or defined.  They are like the magic of a first kiss.  They are like the joy of witnessing your child’s birth.  You know that something special has happened.

“WOW!”

I think its sad, really.  As we get older we lose contact with the WOW-Factor.  It’s not that our world is any less amazing, we just get distracted.  We get disconnected from the wonder of it all.  Then we wonder why our lives have no sense of passion, wonder, mystery, or excitement.

We really need to recover the WOW-Factor.

WOW!

Consider what it might be like for you this afternoon if the doorbell unexpectedly rang.  When you open the door, you find glaring lights, television cameras, and a person holding an over-sized check for ten million dollars.  You have just won the big prize in the multi-million dollars sweepstakes.  Something extraordinary had occurred in the middle of an otherwise mundane day in your life.  How would you react?

Have you ever scene one of those moments captured on television.  If you watch their face, you can see two different emotions at work among those who experience such an occasion.  The first emotion is disbelief.  “You’ve got to be kidding!” they say.  Rational thought has always led them to the conclusion that nobody ever wins such prizes, or that the odds of winning are so astronomical as to be impossible to fathom.  The second emotion expressed is one of unbridled joy.  “I’ve won. I’ve won!” they scream and shout as they jump up and down.  “It’s really happening to me!  My life has changed forever!”

“WOW!”

The extraordinary had made an appearance in the middle of an otherwise mundane existence.  Their palms become sweaty.  Their heart skips a few beats.  They get butterflies in their stomach.

“WOW!”

We do not like these kinds of experiences in the church.  I know you may be tempted to argue that assertion with me, but the evidence is in and the conclusion is clear.  The church – as least the church which most of us are intimately familiar with in our society – is not comfortable with the WOW factor in their faith experiences.

There seems to be a strong desire in the western church to explain the unexplainable.  It is true among Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians.  It is true among so-called liberals and so-called conservatives.  It is even true among many who call themselves Charismatic or Pentecostal.  It does not matter if they sing praise choruses projected on a big screen, or traditional hymns from a hymnbook.  In our society, there is a very strong desire to take that which is miraculous and amazing and make it more reasonable and rational.  It happens in Bible studies and Sunday School.  It happens in worship services, conferences, and seminars.  You hear it on religious radio and see it on religious television.

We are not comfortable with the WOW factor.  We want to place everything under the domain of reason and rationality.  We want to win an argument.  We want to prove our case scientifically, historically, and philosophically.  We want to find evidence to prove to any thinking person the claims of our faith.

The problem is that some things in life that are just so amazing that they defy explanation.  You would think that church folks would be the last folks you would need to explain that too – but the reality is that they are often among the first that need to hear that message.

WOW!

Some things in life are just so amazing that they defy explanation, like the claim of the Easter season that God raised Jesus who was crucified to new life.  It cannot possibly be true, and yet Jesus is standing right there with us right now, defying all sense of reason.

“WOW!”

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