Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
- David, Psalm 51:12
The spring migration is almost here. Our backyard is near a state park forest, giving us wonderful access to wildlife. As the warblers and other song birds move south during the springtime, dozens of species pass directly through our yard. It's exciting to see the new and interesting colors that flutter through our bushes and rest at our feeders. I count them and identify them as best I can, coffee in one hand each morning, binoculars in the other.
Of course, we also have species that are around every day of the year. Common birds like wrens, cardinals, and blue jays.
I keep peanuts out a lot, a favorite of the blue jays, so they are almost constantly in the yard. Oftentimes, I look right past them, focusing on less common birds.
I've been thinking about that this week. Because the blue jay is a spectacular sight, with electric blues and dotted wingbars.... if you don't take it for granted.
I remember several years ago in California when I finished my masters degree, how thrilled I was to catch a glimpse (and photo -->) of a California Scrub Jay. This special, exotic bird was amazing! Do you know where I found it? Perched on the roof of my hotel, and hopping around the parking lot. Why? Because they are all over the place out there. No one else leaving the hotel even noticed them.
Hmm. Both beautiful birds. Both overlooked by those who see them most often. Why?
Why is it that the more common something is in our lives, the less likely we are to notice its beauty?
This is more tragic than one might think, because recognizing beauty is one of the gateways to transformation. The less we notice beauty around us, the less transformed we become as people. Let's move this toward Jesus.
Given this truth, it's not hard to see that the longer we've been around Jesus, the more common the grace and rescue and salvation of Jesus becomes in our lives. And the more common it is, the less we are changed by its breathtaking beauty.
We take it for granted. We cease to be thrilled with how magnificent and freeing the love of God truly is. We hear about it with our church, we sing about it in our songs. It's right in front of us, so what is common actually becomes commonplace.
But being common doesn't mean it isn't breathtaking. And when we miss the beauty of God's rescue, we miss the chance to walk away changed a little more each day.
This is especially likely in times of stress, disappointment, and sadness.
We've grown tired this season. Possibly, we've stopped noticing (or seeking out) the beauty of Jesus in our lives. It can quickly become background noise in the exhausting barrage of current events, family responsibilities, job and school transitions, and pixelated distractions. Jesus invites us to slow down, look up, and be filled with wonder and joy again at God's gift of life. This does not remove us from the pain and struggles of life and our world. Remarkably, it actually equips us to deal with it all in the right spirit, so that anger or despair doesn't take root. You will walk away changed when you linger on the beauty of God's grace for you. Every relationship you have will be healthier. Every situation you encounter will draw your mind toward God's redemptive hope.
King David lost his way many times, and had to cry out to God to restore the joy of his salvation... because he had lost sight of it altogether. He knew he needed God's recalibration.
Years after his own conversion, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, "thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Cor 9:15). He knew that sitting with the beauty and wonder of God's rescue will always take our breath away if we don't overlook it. It will always lead us toward transformation, because we know we are loved that much. It is beyond what words can even describe.
So lately I've been pausing at the wonder and beauty of the blue jay. I think it's even more beautiful than the scrub jay. It's easy to overlook, since it's around every day. But I'm letting it remind me of the joy of my salvation, letting it lead me to be freshly inspired to love God and love others, because God's love for me is beautiful beyond words.
What's your thing? What is both beautiful and commonplace in your life that can remind you of God's beautiful everyday grace? See it fresh today.
Jesus, open my eyes to the joy of your salvation today. Set me free to live out the radical love of your kingdom.