Photographing the magnitude and astounding beauty of Big Sur, California is no small task. It is not a “one picture does it justice” kind of place. Even if you take a hundred photographs, you still feel like you need to get one more — from a different angle, height, distance, or light. Because every time you look, it feels new. A desire to capture and immortalize the awe you feel simply floods your heart.
Comprehending God’s grace brings many of the same overwhelming feelings. As we mature in faith, God deepens our knowledge of Christ and his sacrifice. Using this knowledge, he then increasingly brings more and more details of his grace (his favor) into focus for us (2 Peter 1:2).
Awestruck, our hearts clamor for new and bigger pictures of his grace. Yet, like Big Sur, the more pictures of grace we capture, the more our hearts will long to see. Some pictures of God’s grace:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9 NIV
Grace delivers the gift of eternal life for those who are willing to receive it through faith in Christ. Jesus wrote the invitation for our salvation when he chose to die for our sins on the cross (John 3:16). We cannot earn nor do we deserve this offer; it is free and unmerited. God expects our questions and doubts, and he never wavers in his pursuit of us.
Through prayer and God’s Word, we develop a relationship with Jesus and learn how meaningful his sacrifice is. Our faith in his promise of salvation grows. Pictures of grace bring understanding that is bittersweet.
Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17 NIV
The sacrifice Christ made secured forgiveness for our sins with God. Once we confess and turn away from sin, Scripture tells us God no longer remembers it. Stories in the Bible, like Paul’s (1 Timothy 1:12-17), teach us about God’s patience. He waits for us to recognize and change what we need to because he wants to save every last one of us (2 Peter 3:15).
No matter how much shame we feel, he accepts us unconditionally as we are. He is eager to guide us in new directions for his good purposes here on earth, often using our own brokenness to spread his message of hope to others.
The transparency of our own sin also leads us to forgive others — to give them what God has so generously given to us. Asking God for forgiveness offers us an honest and humbling, yet loving look at ourselves. Pictures of grace can be so amazing.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV
No matter what suffering we face in life, God is aware and ready for it. He plans to lead us through it, ultimately using it for our good. Because he knows us better than we even know ourselves, he sees places where we need mending.
He may use our trouble to help us grow, to reach others who need hope, or even to protect us from something else. Although we are not promised to see the end results of his work while here on earth, we can be certain his plans are far greater than any we could imagine.
Persevering through trials with God, strengthens our character and lays a reliable foundation of hope for now and the future (Romans 5:3-4). Resting in the knowledge that God is always working for our good helps us endure hard times, seek his help, and remain confident in hope. More often than not, pictures of grace surprise us.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV
In this promise, Jesus proclaims his believers can enjoy an abundant life. The abundant life he offers is eternal, but it begins while here on earth through the Holy Spirit. Dwelling within us, the Holy Spirit brings forgiveness, guidance, and love. He teaches us about worship, and he reminds us everything we have comes from God.
Taking time to be still, mindful, and grateful provides opportunities to listen and understand God better in the here and now. As we take note of his blessings, our hearts overflow with peace and joy. Looking at life in a new light, pictures of grace delight us.
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 NLT
Everyone is blessed with the same infinite amount of God’s grace. However, we appreciate it at different levels as our faith matures. Learning more about Christ’s love for us causes our love for him to grow, which in turn makes it easier to perceive the goodness of grace.
Loving him deep within our hearts motivates us to be more like him. We strive to love others in the ways we know he loves us. Ultimately, as we grow in grace we realize we have an opportunity to be part of God’s picture of grace to others. Pictures of grace are never ending and are meant for sharing.
Patiently, God waits to show us the jaw-dropping landscape of his grace. He revels in our joy as we catch that first glimpse of it along life’s winding road. When we make the effort to stop and take it in, especially on blustery days, it astounds us.
Through God’s grace, we see pictures of salvation, forgiveness, mending, abundance, and love. Our hearts beat a little faster as we look and move to capture as many pictures as we have time for. We cannot seem to get enough.
One day, someone will tap us on the shoulder to share an incredible image of grace. In his picture, he will point to something he wants us to see…something possibly overlooked in all our striving. Humbly, we realize it is us. You see, for God, the best pictures of his grace — the ones he longs to show us — will always include us.
A version of this post first appeared on City on a Hill Studio’s website, where I was honored to serve as a guest blogger. Check out their site for inspiring books, videos, movies, blogs, and more. CityonaHillStudio.com
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