I’ve been mulling over Zechariah 4 these past few weeks: not despising the day of small beginnings, trusting not in might nor in power but in His Spirit. And one of the images my mind continues to return to is a picture of a still, quiet body of water – a lake, or a river, or a sea. And here’s the thing – from a distance, all you can see is that still surface. It doesn’t matter what’s underneath. It doesn’t make any difference whether the bed is rough or raggedy, rocky or filled with weeds or trash. The water covers it. Covers it all, leaves no weeping fissure or overlooked hole. Simply… covers it.
And increasingly, I feel that that’s an image of grace, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter how complicated all our own stuff is, or how complicated we might even like to consider our own stuff: in the end, it is by grace that we are set free, and that grace… simply is. It covers it all, with that silken surface, so that our own smudges and messes can no longer be seen.
Sometimes, that’s hard, isn’t it? Because we can instinctively feel that our crags and rocks and stumbling blocks – or indeed our passionate efforts and astonishing works – are bigger/worse/better than other people’s. And we expect – for good or bad – that to somehow affect the level and quality of the water. And yet… and yet, when it’s surrendered to grace, whatever is below the surface of that metaphorical water, that grace, all that can be seen is the surface of the water, with no distinction between the water flowing over our own rocky bed and the pebbled sandiness of our neighbour. Because grace covers it all.
Not to stop bothering – because after all, the water itself knows whether it’s running shallow or deep, and what barnacles and rusty frames it’s covering; and the healthier the world beneath its surface, the more life it enjoys where it is – but to know that over and above our efforts and failures, grace continues to flow and grace continues to cover us. And that simplicity… continues to amaze me.