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Has the Amazing Become Average

Tall buildings have always fascinated me. For the first twenty-two years of my life about the tallest thing I ever saw were farm silos in Giles County, Tennessee where I grew up. Then in 1977, I was fortunate enough to travel to New York City. What I saw there I have never forgotten. The Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge over it! The subway. Lady Liberty. The Empire State building. Our national symbol of freedom – Lady Liberty. Wall Street and Broadway. Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Concrete canyons created by tall buildings that reached the clouds! And towering over the tallest of them — the twin towers of the World Trade Center (who could know they would one day come crashing down due to insane acts of terror?). I'll never forget the first time I stood at the base of the south tower of the World Trade Center, pressed my nose against the building, and looked straight up the side nearly a quarter of a mile! A building so high it visually appeared to bend out over me at the top. After that first visit to NYC my neck was sore for days afterward — from craning my neck to look upwards! Later, Donna and I would live 80 miles west of New York City in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania from 1980-1988. During those years we made several trips into the city that never sleeps. I observed that as we approached the Big Apple from the west on 1-78, the top of the Towers could first be seen from about 15 miles out.

In size and beauty and architectural majesty they were simply unrivaled. How could anyone ever get used to them? But here's what gets me about those visits to New York City. You could determine visitors and tourists by observation — standing around arching their head backwards and looking up, 000hing and aaahing over what their eyes were seeing, their sense of wonder stirred as they stood near breathtaking sights the likes of which many had never seen before. In stark contrast to all this were locals – hurrying along the sidewalks, hailing taxis, watching traffic, staring straight ahead, in a hurry to get somewhere. That astounded me about as much as the astounding sights I could see. Architectural wonder and beauty literally towering over them, too — but familiarity and life's daily rush had blunted and reduced their sense of wonder until that which was amazing was now, to them, only average.

Something similar happens to us spiritually. Hebrews 2:9-13 call us to "see Jesus," the awe-inspiring Son of God who, by His death on the cross, became "the captain of our salvation," blazed a trail to glory, and made it possible for us to overcome death and become sons of God. The cross where Jesus accomplished all this still towers over mankind's spiritual skyline. It is, in majestic and beautiful words penned by Isaac Watts in 1707, "the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died," still displaying a "love so amazing, so divine" that it "demands my soul, my life, my all" (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Isaac Watts). But it first demands your attention. Does the cross still amaze you, or has the amazing become average? Are your eyes fixed on Jesus, or are you hurrying along, too busy to look up and behold its wonder?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ