One of the things about myself that’s bothersome is a tendency to take things in life for granted. Instead of being consciously grateful and appreciative for the many good things I have been given, I too often simply come to expect them. And the more common and familiar these blessings are, the greater the tendency to just expect them. As a husband I too often neglect expressing my appreciation to my gracious and loving wife. As an American I too often take the precious freedom offered me by this great country for granted without recognizing how so many Americans have sacrificed so deeply to preserve that freedom.
My recent trip to London for a series of apologetics lectures reminded me of this common propensity to take things for granted. The city of London is literally filled with incredible historical and cultural landmarks. London clearly represents one of the great cities of Western civilization with all the religious, political, military, and literary significance that a tourist could ever desire. And yet a number of the people that I met on my trip who live in the United Kingdom readily admit that the historical treasures of their great land have become so common and familiar that they tend to fade into the background. So maybe this tendency to take everyday but significant things around us for granted is really a human trait.
God’s General Revelation
During my time in London while visiting C. S. Lewis’s home near Oxford University it struck me that one of the greatest gifts human beings take for granted is the incredible and constant witness to God that is found in the universe all around us—general revelation. Psalm 19:1–4 proclaims:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
According to King David, the glory of God is revealed in the created order that surrounds us. Nature clearly and powerfully manifests the Creator’s existence, power, glory, and craftsmanship. But because that divine self-disclosure is perpetual, uninterrupted, and worldwide in scope (common and familiar), humans tend to take it for granted.
So how can we avoid taking God and his incredible revelation––as we do with so many other important things––for granted? My suggestion is to develop the regular practice of reading what Scripture says about nature (Psalm 19; Romans 1) and then go out and study the natural order. In other words, observe general revelation (God’s world) in light of special revelation (God’s Word). Drink deeply from the two books of God’s revelation. Make it a habit and it will be a rewarding experience.
Hopefully, forming this empirical-spiritual practice will lead to a deeper sense of daily gratitude to God, who has so graciously given us all things in both creation and in redemption.