Don’t Miss the Wonder of the Ordinary
A review of God of All Things: Rediscovering the Sacred in an Everyday World by Andrew Wilson
As a young girl, I loved wonder. I could spend hours absorbed in a kaleidoscope, amazed by how the colors shifted from a triangle to a diamond, never returning to the previous view. I’d walk through a forest in the fall, inhaling the crisp scent of freshly fallen leaves, stopping to marvel at the Creator’s design.
These seemingly ordinary pieces of creation inspired wonder in me, and in Andrew Wilson’s new book, God of All Things: Rediscovering the Sacred in an Everyday World, he selects thirty of these “ordinary” parts of God’s design to show how they will continue to flourish for God’s glory. Like a kaleidoscope, he helps readers see what is often overlooked in a new way, creating wonder in the ordinary.
What’s the point of it all?
God of All Things revolves around the question: why did God create a physical world when he could have simply created a spiritual one? Wilson endeavors to answer this question by examining objects from the Old and New Testaments, like trees, pigs, galaxies, earthquakes, salt, trumpets, cities, and even sex. Each chapter focuses on one of these physical items from Scripture to draw readers into a deeper amazement of God who designed the world.
With an eye toward inspiring wonder and worship of God, God of All Things comes across as down to earth and easy to read. Wilson writes with theological depth and practical takeaways that instill a new awareness of God in many of the common parts of life we see every day. The collection of short chapters repeatedly answers the question at the heart of the book with the reminder that created things point beyond themselves to God the Creator. Like a kaleidoscope, Wilson offers a slight turn on each subject that reveals a new pattern, displaying another view of what has grown familiar.
In his chapter on stones, for example, Wilson begins with a description of Jesus singing at the Last Supper (Matt 26:30), a clear part of the text many churchgoers may not have considered. The “hymn” Jesus sang may have contained reference to a stone from Psalm 118:22, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” A more current and relatable example of a stone is that of a mango pit, representing both a rock of stumbling as an obstacle in enjoying the fruit, and a cornerstone as the seed produces more fruit, a reminder of resurrection and renewal. Hailstorms in the Bible introduce stones enacting divine judgment.
Another chapter expands on the awe of God demonstrated by the sea. Many Israelites, most of whom were terrified of the ocean, became lost, shipwrecked, or killed venturing out in a boat. God also judged humanity with a flood, literally washing away evil from the earth. The edge of a vast body of water made a boundary line on the lands he created. And Wilson concludes this chapter with a satisfying reminder from Revelation that one day the sea will cease to exist (Rev 21:1).
Each chapter reads like a string of ideas grouped into several short paragraphs, approximately one for each sub-topic, creating short chapters that leave readers with room to reflect on new shapes and patterns they have likely not considered previously.
Sprinkled with surprising facts from his research, Wilson approaches his subject with a fresh eye, providing scientific examples, insight from ancient Hebrew and Greek, and personal applications of biblical principles to keep readers looking at ideas from various angles. Raise your hand if you’ve ever encountered an author who said, “Disciples are fertilizers.”
But wonder is not the only emotion Wilson’s book elicits. Through his survey of physical items in Scripture, he reminds readers that tangible objects steer us toward feeling safe in affliction, included in community, and righteously fearful in the presence of God. Comforting concepts and joyful images lead to heartfelt worship of our awesome God.
We often miss the sacred in the ordinary every day. With God of All Things, Wilson evokes wonder for everyday things: “Creation points beyond itself. Things exist not for their own sakes but to draw us back to God.” After finishing this book, readers of every stripe will experience renewed delight in God’s glory through something as small as a stone to something as grand as the sea, enraptured by the glory of God in ordinary things like a child enthralled by a kaleidoscope.
Cover image by Ari Spada.