Picture a dazzling spring day in the Pacific Northwest. In a small classroom at a Christian college, five senior English majors sit in a semi-circle, attentively listening to their professor as she elaborates on medieval theology. The course? Chaucer and his contemporaries.
This was my last English class in undergrad, and I remember it well. Not only were Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales entertaining, but the history surrounding his tales is remarkable.
We studied the Crusades, of course, and we studied contemporary theology. After all, the church had a lot of influence in Chaucer’s society, so he slipped in all kinds of references to Christian living and Augustinian thought.
“Honestly,” our professor said that day, “the medieval church held some unorthodox views that have been soundly rejected, but they firmly believed in God’s sovereignty and love in a way that today’s church doesn’t. To them, everything–absolutely everything–hung upon the love of God. The sparrow does not fall from the sky because God’s love sustains it on the wing. The sun continues to rise and set because God’s love keeps the universe in motion. We draw breath…because of God’s love. The modern church would do well to remember this.”
Tears smart in my eyes now, as I type this, just as they did that day. This paradigm-shifting thought brought my chaotic pre-graduation world to a peaceful stillness. I cleaved to those words and felt rest deep down in my bones. God is sovereign, I thought. God’s love sustains me.
When I recently read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, this thought kept recurring to me. To Voskamp, much of how we live our lives should be seen through the lens of God’s grace, participating with eucharisteo in the mystery of God. In my mind, and I am no great theologian, I view God’s love and God’s grace as two sides to the same coin. We continue to draw breath because of God’s love. We continue to draw breath because of His grace. In light of that, I cannot help but worship God and give Him my thanks.