The Grace that Surrounds Us

pulled away_snow_mountains_tobi gaulke

When we lived in Colorado, our church met in a simple chapel tucked into the Front Range. Behind the pulpit and altar were large windows offering a panoramic view of tall, elegant pines, rugged ridges and a vast, blue sky. Each week, I would sit in my seat next to Miska and gaze west, toward the wild. Soon, I’d hear the call to worship, but those magnificent mountains had already made the call — and I had already answered with reverence and supplication. That splendid vista offered me an invitation to lay down my cares, to breathe deeply, to be present in this one place at this one hour, to trust that “the earth and everything in it is the Lord’s.” Our pastor was an extraordinary preacher, one of the best I’d heard; but I remember the light cutting across evergreens, the white clouds drifting across craggy peaks, every bit as much as I recall any text he expounded.

Last Sunday, as I stood behind our church’s pulpit, I looked out the windows and saw heavy white flakes falling from the sky. All of our trees, shed of their Fall glamor, stretched their bare branches toward the falling grace, like a child craning her neck and sticking out her tongue to catch the magic. We paused. We looked out the windows and watched the snow. We were quiet. It’s likely those few quiet moments were the best sermon we heard that day.

There’s a reason why, when Jesus began to preach, he would at times say things like, consider the lilies or watch the birds. There is a grace that surrounds us, a grace not of our own making. We can receive God’s kindness from the world around us, we can sense the truth and welcome it and walk right into it and allow all these mercies to hold us up. Sometimes we need words and explanation. Sometimes we just need big eyes and a wide-open heart.

As Kosser and Harrison put it:

The moon put her hand
over my mouth and told me
to shut up and watch.

4 Replies to “The Grace that Surrounds Us”

  1. Winn, I live in Colorado, born and raised. The Front Range are my stomping grounds, both then and now. I camp in those tall pines and rugged hills and know exactly of this call to worship coming from the grace that surrounds us. If I wanted to I could get in my car right now and within 15 minutes be on I70 headed west, the Rockies surrounding me. This is never lost on me, especially since by His grace my eyes have gotten bigger and my heart wider (and wilder). Thanks for this.

    1. Becky, I’m with you. We spent last summer back in Colorado while I was on sabbatical. On our hikes, Miska kept saying how obvious it was that I was in my element. The place is a deep balm for me.

  2. I too have been blessed by the beauty of God in Colorado. I lived (20 years ago) in Cortez, CO, and had the opportunity to cross Wolf Creek Pass in mid-winter and marveled in the wonder of His Grace! The most beautiful sight I have ever seen on this earth! I took a picture at the top of the pass, had it enlarged, and hung it at the foot of a dying friend’s bed. Told her – this beauty represents God’s love for us and our eternity with Him. She passed looking at His Grace in that scene. Winn, your words remind me, bless me, and carry me as I seek Him and His Glory right here and right now in the ‘beautify of His Holiness”. Thank you dear brother in Christ!
    Sally Baker, Dover, Florida

    1. Wolf Creek Pass is a magnificent stretch of earth. Thankfully, Florida has its own beauties as well. I like the story of you giving this picture to your dying friend. What a wonderful act of love, faith and friendship.

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