Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s the small things that can be the most powerful reminders of God’s grace? A small child reaching for your hand, a brilliant sunset igniting the evening sky, a simple meal on a clean plate when you’re reminded of the many millions who don’t enjoy that. A humble piece of barn wood reminded me of grace. My daughter, Hannah, and I took a trip a few summers ago to the mountains of Southwest Virginia, to collect some wood from my uncle and aunt’s 1905 barn (it’s entirely possible that men who fought in the Civil War could have hammered some of those first boards onto the barn’s frame). My cousin, Eric, was attempting to keep a dilapidated portion of the barn from pulling the rest of the structure down a hill. You can read more abut that trip here.
Whatever pieces of wood Hannah and I didn’t collect would be burned. What I saw in those dirty, goat hair-covered planks was me. We brought a truck load of the wood back to my studio in Hanover and I cleaned it, removed all the nails, and sanded it smooth. It was amazing to watch the transformation. I selected the piece you see here and applied a little whitewash pickling stain to lighten it and then hand stamped the verse you see, Romans 23-24: “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus …” And just like that, the previously marred, filthy wood that was destined for the fire was now clean, beautiful with its grain showing through the stain, and bearing the message of God Himself instead of goat hair. Not so different than me. I created wire hands with sculpted wire nails as a reminder of the immense sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross as He paid the price for our sin—dying the death we deserved so He could offer us the gift of eternal life. That was a feat infinitely more difficult than the sanding and staining I had to do. Because of Christ’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead, we all have the chance to trade in our tarnished record for Jesus’ spotless, perfect one. And that’s what true Grace is all about. Do you see some small fingerprints of grace around you? Being reminded of them and seeing them throughout our day will help create in us a heart full of gratitude and graciousness, and I know I could use more of both in my life.