Photo by Todd Wenning

All Good Things Come by Grace by Todd Wenning

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Back in college, I took a theology course called “Religious Themes in Modern Fiction & Film.” Over the course of the semester, we watched and discussed films like Field of Dreams (Maybe this world is heaven, or Iowa at least) and books like The Universal Baseball Association by Robert Coover (What if God is just rolling dice?).

By far, my favorite section of the course was reading the memoir, A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, and watching the 1992 movie adaptation starring Brad Pitt.

Without spoiling anything, A River Runs Through It is the story of two brothers, Norman and Paul Maclean, growing up in Montana in the early 20th century. Their strict Presbyterian minister father, in addition to instructing them in their faith and their education, showed them how to properly flyfish. “If our father had had his way,” Maclean wrote,  “nobody who did not know how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.”

Reflecting further on his father’s insistence on diligence, Maclean wrote:  “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

It’s a statement worth repeating and meditating upon: All good things come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.

We know that when we listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or watch Joey Votto smack a smooth line drive to right field, we’re experiencing something beautiful and good – the result of God-given gifts, effort, and time.

Yet such moments aren’t reserved for famous musicians, artists, and athletes. They can be found in everyday life if we look around and observe it – both in ourselves and in others.

What’s something that you do exceptionally well and take great pleasure in doing? How might you use those talents to be a blessing to others? Maybe you bake pies, maybe you paint, maybe you do accounting. Whatever it might be, I bet there’s someone out there who would delight in your talent.

Just as important, in what ways can you encourage the talents of others? We tend to be better at recognizing talent in others  than we are encouraging it. Either we observe it and say nothing to the person, or worse, we become jealous of them. A simple kind word (“You are a wonderful cook.”) can make the person’s day or even inspire them to do more of what they do best.

The world could use more art, grace, and good. I know I need to do a better job of fostering these traits in myself and in others. I hope you’ll join me.

Todd is a Dad, husband, Christian, and writer.