"Here is the world..."

A few years ago I came across a quote by American theologian and writer, Frederick Buechner. Here it is, in context. (This is from his book, Wishful Thinking.

"The grace of God means something like: 'Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you.'"

Apart from Scripture, this is pretty much my favorite quote in the world. The part I italicized above, especially. I have an art print of it, hanging near my front door, with an arrow pointing out the window.

Here is the world. It's right there: out the window. But it's also right here, all around me. In the dirty laundry, waiting to be taken downstairs. In the groceries I just loaded into the fridge. In the mail, lying unopened on the kitchen counter. In the awkward and possibly misconstrued text conversation I've been avoiding all morning. In my car, in my work, in my friendships, in my church. In the news. In the books I read. In back-to-school sales and scheduled meetings and random meetings, too, on the sidewalk, in airplanes, in doctors offices and parks.

The world is in the neighbor boys looking for the golf ball they say they lost in our yard but which would have taken a miracle of science to reach the area where they're looking. But I don't mind and I tell them to search all they want. They run and yell and jump around the point, but no golf ball is discovered. Not in this corner of the world, anyhow.

Beautiful and terrible things will happen. And they do. Beauty isn't only in a sunset. It's in the lacy, decaying leaf that floats to your feet as you sit on the deck on a chilly autumn evening. It's in an unlooked-for invitation, in 64 years of marriage, in patience from a harassed clerk, in a wave from a stranger on a gravel road. It's in kindness and gentleness at the vet's office when the news isn't good. It's in a donut, left on your desk at work. Or a note, slid under the door. It's in the stray cat that blinks at you through the window, the nest of eggs unexpectedly in your hanging flower basket. The smile from a child you feared may never smile again.

But yes, terrible things are around us, too. Fires. Storms. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Broken hearts and accidents. Stolen things and stolen lives. Politics, wars, illness. Missed sleep upon sleep upon sleep. Unintentional hurts. Festering sores, real or imagined. Loss. Sorrow. Death. It's thing after thing after thing when you just can't get a break.

Don't be afraid. Really? After that terrible list? How can I not? How? Because of the next line.

I am with you. This line isn't included in the quote on my wall. But that's ok because I know it's there and I add its intent in my head whenever I read it. The world is out there, it says to me, the good and the bad of it. But that's ok. All that means is that in the midst of the beautiful, terrible world, fear doesn't need to be your first response because you are not alone in the beauty and the terror. You are loved. You are wanted. You are together with the God of the universe at your side, in your very heart.

And that, my friends, is grace.

Beautiful and terrible grace. Beautiful because you can't earn it. Terrible because you can't earn it.

No matter how hard you strive, no matter how often you go to church, no matter. God loves you, plain and simple. The grace - the gift, the beauty - of his salvation comes to us because Jesus died to cover over our iniquities. Our sins. Our terribleness. It is a gift and by definition, we don't earn gifts. We are handed gifts simply because we're loved. Simply because: beauty.

And so: we must respond. Take the gift we haven't earned. Or not.

Here is the grace. Beautiful and terrible grace. Don't be afraid.


Nancy Galland - August 18th, 2023 at 4:22pm

Isn’t funny that we never think that grace, which is always around us , covers us , good or bad. It just


- September 14th, 2023 at 10:21am

We are fortunate that we can take it for granted. (But that doesn't mean we should!)