We woke up to perfect 70 degree weather in Phoenix, but now we were chilled by 6000 feet elevation and 40 degree temperatures. We had driven for about four hours, up, over, and through the mountainous terrain and through the Kaibab Forest. Finally we had arrived. We were speechless. It didn’t matter how cold it was. It didn’t matter that we were tired. It didn’t matter that we were exhausted from running nine miles the day before. We were at the Grand Canyon, and we were in overwhelming awe.
It’s nearly impossible to adequately describe the Grand Canyon, so I’m not even going to try. No camera or photo can accurately capture its magnificence. Even though I knew what it was, where we were going, and had seen pictures, nothing could have prepared me for what to expect. The Grand Canyon is not only breathtaking, but it is surprisingly unexpected.
So is the grace of God. The grace of God is breathtaking, overwhelming, and inexplicable. It comes as such an unexpected daily gift in our lives, that who can know when and how we’ll experience it?
The Hebrew word in the Old Testament is “chen”. It’s interesting to note that the concept of grace in Old Testament history was still developing. Here are some of the meanings of “chen:” nothing, without cause, unearned/undeserved favor, absolutely free, no strings attached.
After David’s son dies in 2 Samuel 12, he changes his daily routine from weeping and fasting to eating and living. It was such an alarming change in behavior that David’s servants have cause to question his change:
His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? [chen] The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12: 21-23
I love that David says, “Who knows?” This is part of the concept of grace. It should leave us and compel us to live our lives with the healthy attitude of “who knows?”
When Sarah and I were first married, we attacked our student debt with a vengeance. About three months into us throwing every penny saved toward paying off our debt, we received a letter in the mail from Nielsen TV Surveys. In this letter were five fresh $1 bills prompting us to complete a TV/Cable survey, with the promise of more cash.
I kid you not, by the end of three months Sarah and I had received over $50 from taking silly Nielsen Surveys. Talk about a “who knows?” moment! In His grace, God provided a unique way for us to earn some extra cash to throw at debt.
The Grand Canyon captures “who knows?” too. Young earth creationists agree that the canyon was non-existent before the great flood in Genesis 7. When God judged the earth, He did so by violently changing the topography of the earth. Between the waters above, and the tectonic plates shifting below, the Grand Canyon was formed over time. (You should talk to Hans about this; it’s incredibly fascinating!)
The Grand Canyon was formed as a result of God’s judgement. God was just to judge, and within His just judgement He gave us one of the most spectacular “who knows?” in the world. The Grand Canyon is a masterpiece of God’s grace.
What’s my point?
It’s easy to see the Grand Canyon and see God’s majesty in creation. It’s easy to complete surveys in exchange for cash and see God’s financial provision. But what if we also view the Grand Canyon through the lens of God’s “who knows?” majesty in grace? What if we also view financial provision through the lens of God’s “who knows?” provision of grace?
God’s grace is spectacular. Our debt of sin has been nailed to the cross – paid in full – and we can enjoy/experience eternal joy and eternal life now with our gracious Jesus.
What is an area of your life where God has provided a “who knows?” kind of grace?
I want to be like David, and Jesus, and live a life that anticipates God’s grace. I want to be expectantly surprised! Think about how much more peace we would have if we trusted in the ever fresh surprising graces of God.
What are some ways you can anticipate God’s grace?