A church youth group decided to take a backpacking trip to a remote wilderness area a few hours away. This area was known for having many natural stone arches and bridges, some on clearly marked trails, and some off the beaten path. The group guide had been to most of the easily accessible arches and wanted to explore a new one. As they descended the road into the park, he caught a glimpse of an arch off in the distance. They searched the map and found it, but here was the problem: there was no trail to this arch. They’d have to blaze their own and, if they found the arch, more importantly, find their way back.
They parked as near as they could to the X on the map, crossed a stream, and started walking uphill. The going was difficult, through dense undergrowth, up steep inclines, scrambling across rocky footing. But as they rounded a corner and moved into an open area, one of the youth gasped, then shouted, “LOOK!” There, above them, was a massive arch with the sun shining through it, warming and lighting the path before them. The group was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the moment, they stopped to give a prayer of thanks, sing a hymn, and read from Psalm 8. The beauty of God’s creation stirred a deep sense of awe and gratitude in all of them.
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” It was as if God were smiling down on them in that moment. It was a huge encouragement and completely unexpected. There’s nothing they could have done to create such a moment. Maybe they could have tried to time their arrival with the position of the sun, but they didn’t even consider such an experience going into the trip. The moment was an undeserved gift of grace. Of course, God’s grace is always true and real whether we are aware of it or not, but having moments like this help remind us of His generous grace in our lives.
Have you ever had a moment like this, where you felt an overwhelming, unexpected sense of God’s gift of grace in your life?
God, we confess that it is easy to live life in a way that allows us to forget how important you are. We tend to focus on how great we are, rather than on how great you are. Help us to look for moments every day to dwell on your greatness and to remind ourselves of the great gift of grace and salvation you have brought into our lives, apart from anything we’ve done.