Advent 2022: On Wondering and Wandering

Published December 23, 2022 by Thomas Coker

When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

Wonder makes you feel smaller. Not insignificant but smaller, in the sense that you are a piece of a greater whole. 
— Dr. Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D.

In the days before daylight saving time came to South Carolina, I have vivid memories of running and playing with cousins and sisters in the early evening. First cousins, Tom and his sister Alice, were joined by sisters Jeanie and Myra. We would run ourselves ragged then lie on our backs on the soft green carpet grass of our front lawn to gaze at the heavens and wonder at God's creation. Loud talk and high activity turned to soft talk. We wondered!

Fast forward to college days and the small Baptist junior college I attended. It happened to be situated in a beautiful rural area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Outside of the college, the town consisted of one country general store. There was not a single traffic light in town.

What Tigerville may have lacked in population and high activity was more than offset by the beauty of places to wander and ponder. It was there I fell in love with the Appalachian folk song, "I Wonder as I Wander." The summer I spent in summer school there literally wandering those hills—as did those mountaineers who originally sang this tune—made me wonder two things: how can one comprehend God's great love for us, and what does that great love ask of my life's journey? I wondered!

My wandering led on to Texas and Baylor. At the same time, my love of music—and ministry—led to a search for a church to serve. That in turn led to a Sunday morning at Third Street Baptist Church near the Baylor campus. Upon arriving I asked the student pianist if she could accompany me on a solo. "Of course," was the immediate answer. Who would have guessed that that one-time experience in a church I never attended again would lead to a wonderful friendship, a surprise friendship, which was to last a lifetime. You may know that person as my wife, Brenda Coker. Was it a chance encounter? Who can know? Was it life-changing? Absolutely! Was it an answer to prayer? Of course! Was it surrounded by wonder? Oh yes!

My question for you: Is there a place for childlike "wonder" in your life?

Dear God, help me never to lose the gift of wonder as I wander through this stage of life in your beautiful, wonderful world. Amen.