Marriott School of Business Associate Dean John Bingham encouraged faculty and students to recognize the awe of seeing God at work in his devotional address on Aug. 3.
Bingham referred to the original meaning of the word ”awe”, which he feels has been watered down by the excessive use of “awesome”. He defined awe as a profound personal reverence to seeing God’s work surrounding people.
“(Awe) is seeing or witnessing something inspiring and feeling the Spirit touch our hearts to confirm truth, expand knowledge or reaffirm heavenly love,” Bingham said.
Bingham connected an experience observing a total solar eclipse in 2017 as an example of pure awe. He contrasted the eclipse with an overwhelming period of his life when he left his career behind to earn a higher education in Texas, a response to revelation that proved to be a test of his faith. Bingham credited three actions that helped provide a spiritual connection in his time of despair.
Act in order to believe
While acting in faith can often seem like a typical routine for those not in the depth of dire circumstances, Bingham said times of trial offer opportunities to act in order to believe more strongly as a result.
“If you want to believe — in God, the gospel, your future — act first … then see what gets revealed,” Bingham said.
Bingham recalled an experience during graduate school in Texas where he especially missed Utah’s fall weather. In an effort to act and hopefully find some autumn colors, he and his wife rode their bikes around the area, where they would ultimately be led to find a single tree with a few branches of leaves changing color. Bingham referred to the tender mercy as a “divine surprise” and brought the branches home to display.
“It became a precious reminder to me that God was aware of my challenges and was giving me glimpses that He was there,” Bingham said. “While I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for that day, I received a reason to keep believing.”
Recognize, remember, record
Echoing the testimony of President Russell M. Nelson, Bingham spoke of the importance in continuing to remember and appreciate the light and inspiration God has given to each of His children, even in seemingly dark moments.
“Recognizing that God has made himself known to us in the past gives us confidence He will again in the future,” Bingham said.
Bingham then prompted a series of lighting changes in the auditorium, inviting those in attendance to ponder on various moments of personal and unexpected encounters with God’s hand as they sat in complete darkness to mimic a solar eclipse.
Bingham would invite the audience to take time in the coming days to record the experiences they revisited in the dark.
“Documenting the Lord’s hand in your life changes you; it makes you more aware and receptive to the reality that He delights in making Himself known to you,” Bingham said.
Seek “thin places“
Bingham noted “thin places” — settings where the natural and spiritual worlds can intersect — as prime locations to enjoy a glimpse of God’s presence.
“Finding these places helps us hear the Lord and experience the surprising and personal insights He desires to share with us through the Spirit,” Bingham said.
While each person’s thin place may differ one from another, Bingham said anyone can recognize such scenery in their lives as they are intentional in seeking peace and access to the spirit.
“Preparing the state of our heart when we enter thin places helps us be ready to experience divine surprises of awe, where we see how God’s will can complement our own,” Bingham said.
Bingham concluded by sharing how these three simple actions enabled him to feel more of the Spirit in his life, overcome the challenges of his education and one day stand as a faculty member at BYU, where he felt a distinct impression that the Lord had guided him there.
“With God, something surprising is always in the making,” he said. “The awe can come at a moment of peak joy, after toiling for years or even in a dark moment of loss. We often see the value of our experiences more clearly with the benefit of hindsight.”
Bingham noted that while the trials of life may never come to an end, following Jesus Christ can help to see the awe in every moment.
“It is our Savior’s willingness to accompany each of us in our sorrows, our pains, and our infirmities that allows us to experience the astonishing goodness that our loving Heavenly Father earnestly offers to each of us.”