It is easy to lose sight of God’s goodness. If we’re not intentionally setting our eyes and minds on His good gifts, distraction, disarray, and discouragements quickly divert our attention.
We practice remembering God’s good deeds by thinking about all that is noble, pure, and lovely. Filling our minds with His wonders leaves little space for negativity and dismay. In the sixteenth century, a peculiar hobby arose that lends a beautiful visual for collecting God’s goodness.
Wunderkammer, the German word for “Cabinet of Wonders,” claimed shelves, corners, and entire rooms of homes across northern Europe. Collectors began building exhibits in their own homes with stretching displays of artifacts — most of them things discovered in nature. Although these “Cabinets of Wonder” served a purpose of entertainment and social status at that time, they also played a significant role in drawing eyes and minds to the wonders of creation. This practice was an in-depth exploration of the intricacies found in the natural world. It was a pursuit of peering closer to the details and appreciating their fine-tuned designs. Natural philosophers later used this concept to keep their audiences attentive while teaching about nature. Beautiful things crafted by our Maker keep our attention.
If we pay close attention, we’ll notice many young children still preserving the history of Wunderkammer today. Bedroom shelves lined with rocks and fossils, containers of leaves and sticks, and displays of shells from vacations or nature walks speak to curiosity and intrigue with what God has made.
We can practice Wunderkammer in its purest ways by collecting God’s goodness in our everyday lives and humbly exhibiting His acts to those around us.
What if we applied the practice of Wunderkammer to our minds? We can collect good thoughts on paper, journaling the promises of God, prayers, thanksgiving, and how we see Him at work in our lives. Considering the instruction of 2 Corinthians 10:5 to “take every thought captive,” this is a proactive and intentional way of training our thoughtlife. As we do so, gratitude flavors our attitudes, words, and actions.
We can also begin a “Cabinet of Wonders” in our hearts by loving others as Christ has loved us and through loving God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Every act of love situated on the shelves of our hearts transforms us. More and more, God keeps our attention on worthwhile things.
Before an interior designer comes in to decorate a room with beautiful things, often old things need to be cleared out. In extreme cases, a professional organizer can enter the scene to empty a room and create a blank space. Similarly, filling our minds with good things necessitates a purging. Thankfully, these two processes can take place simultaneously. We find as we create habits of thinking God’s thoughts after Him, lesser thoughts, like cobwebs in a corner, are swept away, making space for beautiful things.
Collecting God’s goodness is a lifelong pursuit. His new morning mercies and lavish grace know no bounds. Psalm 40:5 reads, “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,” and in Psalm 77:11, “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; I will certainly remember Your wonders of old.”
God’s goodness is wrapped up in His faithful acts throughout history, His works of creation, the gentle promptings of His Spirit in our hearts, and every answered prayer. As our collection grows, our attention develops into a fine-tuned maturity. We begin noticing God’s goodness in every fine detail of our days. Further, those around us start taking notice. God’s goodness in our minds and hearts changes how we live and how others see us. Matthew 5:16 says, “Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Collecting God’s goodness has this life-giving effect.
As we consistently and purposefully collect God’s goodness in our hearts and minds, may everyone around us take notice, and may their attention be directed to the giver of good gifts and the maker of the heavens and earth.