Grace: That I might see God as the beginning and end of all created things and that I might use and love all things in the Lord.
Text for Prayer: Psalm 19: 1-6
Reflection: A great art critic can look at a painting or sculpture, or hear a musical composition, and tell you that it’s Van Gogh, or Michelangelo, or Mozart. He can do this only because he has learned, over time, to notice the distinctive marks, the telltale traces of the creator that permeate the work.
Creation works the same way. From the earliest days, Christianity has maintained that we can know God through His creation. Paul proclaimed to the Romans, “Ever since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made.” Creation then is a powerful revelation, disclosing to us, in partial form, the mind of the maker.
The Lord wants us to be great ‘art critics’ of creation. He wants to help us grow in our ability to perceive His fingerprints and smudges through all creation. He wants to teach how to see, to use, to enjoy and to love all things in their relationship to Him.
It’s a lifelong process. It is not easy to maintain that level of awareness, that proper ordering of all created things. Sometimes, we like objects in themselves, separated from the One Who is their origin and their destiny. And when we divorce our appreciation for an object from the Lord, we can run the danger of slipping into idolatry.
The pleasures of the dinner table can provide delight, call forth gratitude to the Lord, strengthen us for the work He has entrusted to us, and deepen relationships. But food can become a consuming passion that competes with God for our attention. Or maybe it’s our job. A job can be a noble means of providing for one’s family, contributing to the common good, and taking part in God’s creative work. A job can also become untethered from these larger considerations and displace the Lord. Is my career something I understand with reference to God, or is it entirely separate and compartmentalized from my spiritual life?
There are ways we can cultivate a true appreciation of all things before God. A simple way is the custom of grace before and after meals. Before sitting down to eat, we can consecrate the meal to God, thanking Him and asking that the meal nourish us and invoking His presence in our fellowship and conversation as well. We can expand this humble dedication to other parts of our lives. Perhaps repeating a Scripture verse or a saying from a favorite saint before leaving the house in the morning. Perhaps reading a prayer card next to our computer after turning it on at the beginning of the work day. Perhaps, before calling a friend, recalling a fond moment with him that led us to greater faith, greater hope, greater charity.
Another way we can remind ourselves of the Lord is to make room for beauty in our lives. Beauty is a great letter of introduction from God, because it gives rise to wonder, and God works really well with wonder. If we start with sunrises and sunsets, pretty soon we’ll be discovering God’s beauty amid the drizzling rain of cloudy days.
Questions: When and where am I most aware of God’s presence in the world? When and where am I least? What are the things I most enjoy? What are the things I am most grateful for?