Creation & Grace: The Sheer Wonder of Delight
Discovery Park sits on a hill nestled against the Rockies. The park seems to rest at an angle, perfectly cradling children while they come and play. The sun carries no prejudice, it reflects the same loving warmth upon auburn, gold and ebony strands of hair alike. While the breeze plays songs of cool relief, both the sun and the breeze, work together in unison to create an atmosphere to stay and play ... to bask in the sheer wonder of delight.
I sit and watch two adolescent boys play chess and figure out their next move. Suddenly, one of the boys yells out, "CHECK!" and then laughter ensues. In this moment, their faces are the pinnacle of vulnerability. Overzealous emotions stream out of boys that are simply learning to become men. Simultaneously, a tiny little girl appears from behind the table in diapers. Her mind works faster than her legs, and almost topples over while waddling to the slide. In a matter of seconds, time shifts and she stops and stares at the behemoth contraption in front of her. Curiosity has its limits. Her innocent eyes scale the depth and height of the slide. Her whole body starts to react to fear. Intuitively, she turns to look for approval and comfort of her dad, who has been lovingly standing there the whole time. Of course, he only encourages bravery while safely guiding her all at the same time. Courage is no small feat at the precious age of three.
My eyes shift to the cascading mountains. Clouds hang like sheer curtains all throughout the range, they somehow frame the depth and majesty of the Rocky Mountains in just the right way. Spots of snow stick to the majestic peeks, just a handful of miles away.
I once sat through a lecture at Denver Seminary by Dr. Payne on the Theology of Grace. He spoke with knowledge and excitement about the wonder of Creation. How goodness, beauty, elegance and artistry were all a part of the "sheer un-necessity of Creation". He dared to suggest that we should stop and think of Creation as liturgy, the place where grace began.
I admit, as a Christian, I often place grace after the fall of humanity. Well after the story of Adam and Eve. I tend to skip over the part where "God created man in His own image" and declared His workmanship "very good". Disobedience, guilt and shame all recorded in Genesis chapter 3 tends to get more of my attention. The glaring truth that I am a sinner too. Grace ushers in three days after Jesus died. The tomb is empty and I am a sinner saved by grace.
But now, when I sit and bask in the comfort of the sun, I wonder if the Garden of Eden reflected elements like this park nestled in the hills? Where purple daisies dance with the wind. I recently scanned my notes from Dr. Payne's lecture and realized something. I don't take time to reflect on the goodness of God in terms of creation. The Hebrew word of divine activity that took place in Genesis chapter 1 is called bara (בָּרָא) . It paints a picture of a Triune God who spoke a created world into being, with love and grace. Sitting in the park, I think Dr. Payne must be right. That a good theology of grace is understood and rooted, "In the beginning God created ..." (Genesis 1:1).
My two girls finish climbing ropes and decide to run and play with water and sand. The same water and dirt that God spoke into being. I wonder if the Spirit of God that hovered over the waters also thought of all these children ... playing in a park, nestled on a hill.
My husband and I recently welcomed our third child into this world.
On January 18th, at 6 pounds, 9 ounces, Addy Mae took her first breath.
The sheer wonder of her life is the absolute aura of grace.
I stare at her breathing.
This life that God "knit together" in my womb is too wonderful for me to contemplate.
Why do we start with sin most of the time?
Too often, grace comes after the fact ...
You have a problem.
You ARE a problem.
And if we aren't careful, our brokenness starts to define everything about us.
But our fallenness is not the most fundamental thing about us.
There's two chapters that exist before Genesis 3. And we are told that God made us good — very good. I start to think again about a good Theology of Creation and I want to go around to every, single child in the world and start the narrative of their stories at the right place. In Genesis chapter 1 & 2.
I look at Kaytlin, Khloe and Addy and I know that God's divine activity in creating my three daughters was pure goodness and delight. I want to tell all the kiddos at the park that God intentionally "bara" them. He divinely and lovingly creates every detail of them. That they are made in a secret place, woven together in the depths of the earth ... their days ordained and written in His book before they are ever born (Psalm 139:15-16). They are precious and thought of by their loving Creator. Every, single child is uniquely and lovingly made in the "imago dei" (the image) of their heavenly Father. That such a time is this in the mind of a Triune God that spoke the world into being — and this park on a hill.
Yes, we have a problem. And sin will continue to be the struggle for our eternal souls while on this earth, but grace was there before it all. To think of grace only after the problem is to not appropriately understand the goodness of God and who we are in relation to Him. When we only focus on the culmination of grace (the death and resurrection of Jesus), the part of the narrative that comes after the Fall, we miss out on the grandeur and wonder of the Triune God from the beginning.
Grace didn't just arrive after you messed up. Every one of us, was birthed in the sheer aura of grace from the beginning. When God made the stars to sparkle in the night, He thought of you. He created temperature and time and space with you in mind. Grace has run through the breath and blood of every man and woman to walk this earth — even though God knew what would happen in Genesis 3 and you and me. God didn't need to do any of it. The sheer wonder of Creation is because He delighted to.
That's Creation as liturgy.
Sin and brokenness and the devastation of death are real and raw. We are still in-between grace, dealing with the ramifications of a fallen world before Christ's return. But don't start the narrative of your story there. Go back to the beginning ...
Go sit outside and listen for the still small voice that whispers in the wind and invites you to play.
Know where the beginning of your story starts.
In the goodness and love and grace of a Triune God that delights in you.