Tonight as I completed our mowing, the sun was hanging low in the sky and tucking itself away for the evening. Maybe you saw it too, and like me, you were treated to a glorious, changing display of color and movement, the skies adrift with white billowing clouds and a darkening background. The moon rose orange and full and smiled on me as I finished my work, and the sun did her final painting on the edge of each white billow, in a majestic array of pink, orange, and golden.
Retiring the mower for the night, I noticed lightning in the distance and heard a low roll of thunder. It took me back to just a year ago when Abby and I had committed a week of evenings to taking walks and looking for tree frogs. One of those nights the “heat lightning” was so grand we stopped to take a video (shown here: IMG_6630). If you turn the volume up you will hear her reaction.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why we are able to enjoy such beauty? Why are we so delighted and awed by the things of nature? Why do our eyes enjoy it, and our ears tune out everything else in order to discern every sound that makes up an evening chorus such as this one? Why are these moments any better than sitting inside our houses, or reading a newspaper? What makes beauty, beautiful??
In theology there is a term called “common grace” which refers to a gift God gives to all people for their enjoyment and pleasure. It’s a sign of His love and care for us. There are many, many of these common graces in our world pointing to our creative and gracious Father. Any time you gasp in awe at something you see in nature, it is a gift of His grace. Any time you are brought to tears by a symphony or maybe by a familiar song, it is a gift of His grace. Any time you swell with love in the mere presence of someone you love, it is a gift of His grace. He has provided all such things by His kindness, for our good.
AND YET, there is an even greater grace. THIS grace is the grace He gives when we come to know Him. It is the assurance that because I belong to Him through His Son Jesus, He sees me as flawless. THIS GRACE is saving grace. It is the grace found in forgiveness. The ways I have offended Him, forgotten. It is the grace of belonging to and being loved by HIm. It is the privilege of understanding Him better, and growing in love and awe of who He is. THIS is an even greater grace. THIS is the grace that causes the human soul to gasp in awe again and again. THIS is the grace that I live for, which will never fade, and only grows brighter as I understand Him better. His grace…His saving grace… is the greatest display of splendor we have known or imagined. Tonight’s symphony in the sky reminds me of my Father in heaven. And in awe I thank Him for two kinds of grace!