On pollution, sunsets, grace, and glory.
I must confess to you that I don’t often sit and thank God for sunsets. They’re sequestered with those other divine blessings that are easily overlooked and forgotten. With ease, we daily, hourly even, forget the blessings we’ve been gifted by grace, ones that are vital for life itself but aren’t consciously regarded or praised. In a very real way, though, this lack of perpetual worship of the small and unremarkable is another nail in our coffin. We fall short of glory in failing to give God constant praise for His common, unexceptional gifts of grace. Sunsets, certainly, are among these gifts, for in them, we’re given daily sermons of the Father’s incalculable mercy.
You see, the irony of the beauty of sunsets is that you’re basically viewing the sun’s light through a polluted glass. The vibrant colors that paint the evening canvas are born out of our own contamination and adulteration of the world around us. Impeccable beauty at the hands of untold impurity. It’s another paradox of creation that serves to remind us of the mercy of God that meets us in our mess.
Sunsets preach to me. They remind to not dismiss the small things. Or, as one writer put it, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” The resplendent light of dusk is one of those little things, which speaks great things to us. In them are reminders that whatever might be broken or falling apart for you, God specializes in putting the broken bits back together. Like Samuel Rutherford so wonderfully pens, “Binding up of wounds is his office.”1 Sunsets are sermons that remind me that it’s okay — God can handle my mess.
The incomprehensible glory of the gospel remains the fact that the Creator chose to dwell among his creation. In the midst of those who spurned him, he lived and slept. His ministry was a ministry of the alley, giving boundless grace to those in the gutter. The incarnation of God in human flesh preaches indeterminate grace to us, as the God who spoke galaxies into suspension and stars into existence, reached his fingers into the dusty depravity of our fallen world.
As I gaze at the polluted beauty of an earthly sunset, therefore, I’m reminded of the gospel. I’m reminded of the fact that I’ve been covenanted a sun that will never set. A sun whose rays will emanate an unadulterated splendor, a holy prism of color radiating from the righteous perfection of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Samuel Rutherford, Christ and His Cross: Selections from Rutherford’s Letters, edited by Lucy Soulsby (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1902), 85.