This summer my husband, Scott, and I have taken a profound interest in clouds. We've had the most stunning skies recently. Beautiful puffy, fluffy, billowy, white clouds or cottony swishes splashed across the sky that reflect brilliant sunbeams. And at dusk, the colors are magnificent. Magentas and yellows and pinks and blues. Breathtaking. Almost every evening, Scott and I walk outside, point to the sky, and ooh and aah. Like five-year-olds, we identify flying dragons and Irish Setters wearing party hats.
If this summer's cloud offerings have reminded me of anything, it's that the clouds are new every day. (I know. Brilliantly profound, isn't it?) New shapes and colors for me to enjoy and appreciate (even the gray, dull ones). Don't like today's clouds? No biggie. Tomorrow will offer a plethora of new choices. No need even to wait for tomorrow. Just wait a few minutes and the sky will change.
But in the midst of the change is a permanence. Every morning, the sun comes up. Every night, the moon shines. Every day, a smattering of clouds cover the sky. It's routine. It's certain.
Apparently, in the midst of great creativity, God loves routine. Just like when I was five and my father would twirl me round and round, and dizzily, I'd exclaim, "Do it again!" God loves to "do it again!" and again and again.
Looking at clouds, it hits me: God isn't a God of second chances. Woe to us if he were. He's a God of infinite chances. Just like those clouds, God's grace toward us is new every day, every minute. Different amounts and shapes and colors, to be sure. But always there, renewing and routine. Something we can count on.
So if I screw up and say something rude to my husband (not that that ever happens), and I loathe myself for doing it but then turn right around and do it again the next day and the next, God is there to forgive me and help me to grow stronger and more mature. The next day, and the next day, and the next. Maybe that's why we're here for a lifetime— because it takes that much creative routine for us to be transformed into the image of Jesus.
I don't know about you, but too many times in my life I've beaten myself up over some mean or stupid thing I've done. And I've wondered, How much grace does God really have for me? At what point is he going to draw the line and say, "Nope. No more for Ginger. She hasn't learned the lesson the past 5.3 million times, so I'm finished forgiving her"?
But then I look up at the clouds and gain a renewed sense of hope. Because even as the clouds are "doing it again!" so our God says to us, Let me do it again. Here's my mercy and grace and forgiveness for you again. And again and again.
Within a matter of minutes last night, I watched my flying dragon change into an oversized squawking goose and the setter's hat morph into a pink cotton-candy-colored Elvis wig. I smiled, filled with awe at God's abundant creativity. But mostly I smiled at the routine of it all.
The Old Testament writer in Lamentations puts it this way: "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (3:21-23, NRSV).
I'm not sure I'll ever look at clouds the same way as I did before my revelation. Because they point to a God who loves routine, whose faithfulness is as certain to us as the sky, and most of all, who is a God of infinite chances.
Copyright © 2010 by the author or Christianity Today/Kyria.com.
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