Today I saw a beautiful photo on my Instagram feed.
An open journal set on a table, and upon the crisp white page was written the word,
In enviously beautiful penmanship, the kind with long tails and swirls at the ends of the letter.
The journal was placed upon a table set up outdoors. On the table you can see a strategically placed cup of coffee and a pen next to the mug, mindlessly left there by the artist. You could see the back ground. The blurred image of palm trees and blue skies.
No argument from me that it is a lovely image.
My reaction though, was not what the artist had hoped. Something inside me was, disappointed.
It is no difficult task to sit in a tropical setting, drinking a latte while you have the leisure to create a beautiful scripted image about God’s grace.The ease and peace of the moment doesn’t reduce the truth of God’s grace. His grace is life changing. And amazing. And real. Which is why the picture is so powerful.
I love pictures that are like the one I described. Where the girl is strolling in the knee high grass, golden locks tossed messily by the wind. The words of Grace written happily across the sun streaked sky. Where she leans in the shade against a strong tree. Her bare toes curled in the cool green grass. A verse about the peace of our Father Creator written in the canopy of dark green leaves. Photos like this represent the hope of our creator. His blessings. His peace. His amazing grace.
These images appeal to our wants. We want that. Of course we do! The sun. The blue sky. The crispy empty white page with error free art effortlessly drawn upon it. The refreshing atmosphere. Feet kicked up. We look at that photo and we think, yea, THATS grace.
But there are times when I see these images and… my heart sinks.
Because this is not the grace I know right now. This is not the grace we always see.
Where is the photo of his princess crying in her car at the red light on her way to work? Her unspoken prayers caught in her throat that is in synchronized twist with her heart. Is his grace not in that moment, as she waits for the light to change?
Where is the photo of the daughter of God staring at a stranger in a bathroom mirror spotted with tooth paste splatters? She looks at the unfamiliar face of someone she no longer recognizes anymore, someone she fears will be forever a failure. Is her heavenly dad’s hope not in there with her as she rests her hands on the sink?
Does grace and hope and peace and love always look like the first photos?
Or is it possible, that he exists in these other moments as well?
Is our faith as valid when our hearts feel hopeless?
Is our love for our maker just as known by our Heavenly Dad when we are feeling unloved?
Are our prayers still important when they are filled with questions?
Does he still hear our heart when it’s cries fall silent?
There is a deep assurance that rests within me that tells me that my faith is just as real now as it is when the days are sunny. My heavenly Dad still sees my heart, hears my cries and is moved with compassion for me.
He knows us comprehensively.Every shadow we walk though, he is there.. Every inch of this part of the path that is clouded by the gray skies that we might find ourselves walking tonight? He is here. And not only is he present in this place with us. He sees all our fears and doubts and darkness and he is overcome with love for us.
When our walk with our God becomes wordless, feel him take your hand and knowingly give you a squeeze. He isn’t going anywhere.
This is my photo of grace.