I had a perfect cup of tea the other day: just an ordinary cup of black tea with milk, but exactly the right temperature and strength and color and size. I drink tea every day so believe me when I tell you from experience that cuppas like that don’t happen often.
That tea was a cup of grace.
For me, one of the hardest parts of living through 2020 was feeling like everything was so BIG and OVERWHELMING. Global pandemic, economic collapse, two hundred years of racial tension, apocalyptic rhetoric, poisonous election cycle—did you remember that half of Australia caught on fire in January? Did you know that 63 million people were displaced by major floods in China? The waves of bad news crashed over our heads again and again, ebbing away only to roar back in with twice as much force as before. How were we to keep our heads above water?
We got through it the way people have always managed to survive BIG and OVERWHELMING seasons: one day at a time, both literally and figuratively. Part of that is because the human psyche isn’t able to really get its mind around huge-scale concepts for long; blow it too big and we lose sight of what it means. Part of it, though, is that this year we haven’t had another choice. We have all been forced—by uncertainty, by lockdown, by lack of other options—to focus on the present and immediate moment. As these moments bear the weight of our full attention, they become heavy with significance.
This is as it should be. Every moment is heavy with significance, because every moment is one in which God declares His glory to us and through us.
When you have nothing to focus on but the thing right in front of you, you begin to notice the details. And, because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”, the details reflect Him. I’ve written before about how God uses the petty annoyances of the day to teach us, but I’ve also been learning to see how the small pleasures of the day also speak about God. He is not only our Father who corrects and trains, but also our Father who loves and gives. Anything that is good at all has its source in Him. So:
- the commute where I heard a piece of music so beautiful that I wept was a gift from God.
- the leaves turning golden for a solid week in November was a gift from God.
- a church admin ending a routine email with “I’m praying for you” was a gift from God.
- the first sip of that perfect cup of tea at 7:30 on a Wednesday morning was a gift from God.
Each time I notice one of these moments—more often than I used to, not as often as I should—I am astounded by the kindness of God. I don’t need any of them, and yet I receive and receive good things I don’t deserve. They are all tangible manifestations of the BIG and OVERWHELMING grace of God.
I have seen God’s goodness manifested in a hundred big ways over this last year—as I’m sure you have, too. We are grateful for the miraculous way He provides, protects, and encourages. However, we are also given constant reminders in small, unimpressive ways that God is good, that He loves us, that nothing is too small to escape His notice.