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Don’t miss your blessing of common grace

Sunday afternoons lend themselves to spells of laziness, and last Sunday was no exception. I’d spent the morning with visiting family. When they left, I found myself sitting in my house. Though the house retained a distant memory of a warm summer, it remained unconvinced that warmth would ever come back. The house was cold.

I stepped outside and sat on a wrought iron bench. A breeze was gently soughing through the tops of the swaying pine trees, but the fence held it at bay.

I closed my eyes, lifted my chin, and let the sun wash over my face. I’d forgotten just how good that felt.

Even though the temperature was still cool, I felt the genuine warmth that only comes from beams of yellow sunshine. I can feel the caress of it right now. And it feels good.

Have you ever stood by a window and bathed in light while the cold of winter rages outside? It changes everything.

John Denver wrote that sunshine on his shoulder made him happy. Me, too.

John Donne wrote a poem chiding the morning sunshine for waking him up, calling it a “busy old fool, unruly sun, why dost though thus, through windows, and through curtains, call on it.” I think he’d just as soon have slept in.

We should not be surprised that the creator of sunshine should have a say. In Numbers 6:25 God compares sunshine to being in His good graces: “The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you.”

Sunshine is even more amazing than we give it credit for. I know; I looked it up. I won’t bore you with the details—let’s not kid ourselves, I don’t understand the details—but we get sunshine when the big nuclear explosion in the sky (that’s all the sun is, really) gets so hot that atoms sort of split apart, sort of come back together oddly, and, in the end, we get photons.

Those photons speed away from the sun in every direction at the speed of light (a whopping 186,000 miles every single second—can you even imagine such?). The sun is so far away from us that on Sunday it took about eight minutes and twenty seconds for its light to reach earth to warm my chilly face.

We think of sunshine as a common grace. Common grace is the concept that God gives us all a taste of his gifts by letting everyone, everywhere, experience sunshine and rain, warmth and coolness, food and drink. And He gives it regardless of whether we deserve it. It is a grace given to us all–a common grace.

We shouldn’t take it for granted.

Ray Bradbury was a favorite writer of my childhood. One of his best short stories was called “All Summer in One Day.” It takes place on another planet, a planet where it rained every day, and where the sun only came out once every seven years. The story revolves around a nine-year-old little girl named Margot who used to live on the earth. She had experienced sunshine, but her school classmates, who had not, didn’t believe her. She had grown pale and pasty, and was excited to see the sun again. When the day of sunshine finally arrived, the teacher had to go out of the room for a moment, and her classmates, speaking the universal language of bullies, locked her in the closet.

The sun came out, they all went out to experience the joy of this thing they hadn’t believed in. They frolicked and played for an hour, then for two. And they forgot about Margot in the closet. As the sun was going away not to be seen for another seven years, they went back in, and they remembered Margo. But it was too late. She’d missed the sun.

As I sat on that wrought iron bench, I enjoyed my measure of common grace. I thought of Margot and I felt sorry for her, even though she was just a character in a story.

You know, it doesn’t matter what kind of day you are having. It doesn’t even matter what kind of year you are having. We are given blessings aplenty, common graces in full measure, more than we can conceive, more than we can comprehend. And the best ones are free.

The feeling of sunshine on my face was wonderful. Freely given, it was received with much appreciation. And I hope that it happens to me again. And soon.

And I hope it happens to you. And when it does, make sure that you are not hidden away in a closet. Be ready for it when it comes.

Don’t miss your blessing of common grace. They are around you all the time.