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An Unnecessary Grace

December 23, 2010

I had the day off of work today, so I relaxed and studied the Word to start off the morning and then spend the better part of the afternoon wandering around downtown Fargo with my friend Kelly. As I got back to MSUM, I began to ponder what I was going to do with my evening. First thing that popped into my head; turn on a sermon and head to the studio to do some art. Sounded great to me. It had been a week or so since I’d gotten my hands dirty with paint, charcoal, or whatever other medium seemed appealing at the moment. I dropped my stuff on the floor of my dorm, grabbed my art supplies and Zune, slipped on the headphones, and hit the power button as I walked out the door. The Zune turned on and I browsed through the menu to “shuffle all,” clicked, and was prepared to hear some random musical goodness.

The Zune said no.

The screen stopped in half-step and so did I. After half a minute of waiting for the little hard drive to catch up with me I attempted to reset the thing.  No success. Went downstairs and plugged the Zune in to the computer, thinking that the batteries had been lower than I’d thought. A half-hour passed spent reading up about the technical specifications of various camera lenses at dpreview. Still no luck. Tried resetting again.

My vain attempts lasted probably an hour before I finally gave up, rather frustrated and wondering why God apparently didn’t want me to do what had seemed like such a good way to spend the evening. Why wouldn’t God want me to listen to a sermon? There really wasn’t any answer as I trudged back up to my dorm room to drop off all the art stuff and the now-defunct Zune. It just didn’t seem right to go do art without music or a sermon, and I certainly didn’t feel like sitting in front of a computer longer, so I did the only thing that seemed vaguely appealing to mr, tossing on my winter apparel and heading to wander around campus and talk with God while enjoying the light snowfall. For some reason the crashing of that little musical device had really thrown down the spiritual joy I had had, and I began to see the warning signs of an electric idol taking root in my life, so as I walked I prayed. After 10 minutes of just breathing and reminding myself how to simply rest in the Lord, peace began to return. A side note is worthy here – Christian, if you do not know the stunning way that time alone with the Lord can bring peace to a life of utter chaos, I urge you, find time to escape and be with Him. Once peace came back to my soul, I began to pray for larger things like the numerous non-Christians in the Fargo/Moorhead area and much more.

As I came back to where I’d started, I felt like I should ask the Lord to make the Zune work again. As my God, he has absolute rights to give and take whatever he pleases, particularly if that thing is taking his place as rightful center and sole support in my life, so my prayer went something along the lines of, “God, I know I really don’t need it, but I would love to have my Zune working again. If it’s something you need to take, do it, but it  would bring me great joy if I was to walk back into my room and try the Zune and find it working.” For some reason just the thought of the Lord doing that little miracle got me rather excited, and I was in high anticipation of what would happen as I walked into the dorm, pulled off my jacket and hat, and grabbed the Zune to hit the play button. For a few seconds nothing happened. I tried resetting it. A few seconds. Then, as I was about to set it down and try to figure out something else to do with my evening, it turned on.

Something as silly as an MP3 player shouldn’t bring me such joy, but I was definitely excited at that moment. As I write this, my Zune is charging plugged into the computer and working perfectly.

It’s amazing the small graces that our God gives us, isn’t it? He lavishes upon us mountains of unnecessary graces. We get to taste our food and enjoy the eating of it, not just chew some flavorless paste to sustain our bodies. We get to relate to hundreds of people and find the joy that comes in deep friendships. We have opportunities to see sunsets and forests and fresh cut lawns and art galleries. We are wired to be emotionally effected by waves of sound floating through the air and hitting our eardrums. We have thousands of little machines that can play any variety of those sound waves at the touch of a button. It’s not like God is obligated to give us any of these things. He could have created a bland, black and white and gray world and saved us in such a way that involved no emotions, yet he chose not to. He chose to build into his creation a whole universe of pleasures, giving men and women the ability to enjoy them regardless of whether or not they praise him for it.

Oh how much we aught to exalt the Lord for the unnecessary graces that he puts in our lives! Not only has he saved us from death and punishment and given us “every spiritual blessing,” he has also given us thousands of physical and temporal blessings. Give thanks to him for it. To fail to do so leaves us crippled in our spiritual growth.

Don’t forget that your taste buds are a grace given to you, oh man. Don’t forget that the feeling of happiness that wells up in your heart from time to time is a grace given to you, young woman. Don’t forget, oh human, that your existence is a grace given to you. Praise God for it. Don’t forget that your Zune is a grace given to you, Ben Pontius.

Don’t forget.

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