Grace and a Wonderful World

ca-smmra-0709-2Many of us feel that God’s grace is an important part of our life. Grace implies that even though we turn from God at times, even though we vainly think ourselves and our works better than His at times, and even though we do things against our fellow man and God, God forgives us. His loving grace keeps us close to him and saves us from ourselves. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” is a mantra for Christians (John 3:16).

But as I spend time in and photographing nature, I believe that the meaning is much deeper than simply grace that forgives our sins and failings. Consider how stunning the world is. I am not just talking about going to some far-away national park. I am talking about sunrise and sunset in our backyard, flowers along a local park trail, the stunning architecture of a bur oak, the elegant beauty of a dragonfly, the soft green of a redshank bush in the chaparral and so very much more.

There is no reason that God had to create such a stunning world for us to live in. If our life on earth is unimportant (as some folks misguidedly believe, I think), then why should we be blessed with such amazing beauty in this world? We may have fallen away from God at times, but His grace not only forgives us, but also gives us this outstanding nature all around us. There is no reason why we should be built to feel in awe of so much of nature, but we do. I feel blessed by the nature of the native plants that live in my garden, the incredible chaparral ecosystem of my now “adopted” Southern California, the beauty of a blue sky with wonderful clouds and so much more.

In the words of Louis Armstrong,

“I see trees of green…….. red roses too

I see em bloom….. for me and for you
And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white
Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights
And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world.”

The photo shown here is from the chaparral of the Santa Monica Mountains just outside of Los Angeles, shot at dawn. — Rob Sheppard