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We’re All Addicts

By Andrew Goins

Watauga CountyAndrew Goins

We are all secondhand smokers—unknowingly addicted to the common graces that clothe us to keep us from the deep blackness of the abyss. We are unknowingly generated and sustained by grace upon grace; it is our very life-breath, our very blood. It is grace that keeps from annihilation. It is grace that keeps us from nothingness. It is grace that keeps us from chaos, even when the source of grace, God, is concealed.

The smoke settles into couch cushions that swallow us up and the good meals shared with friends, the beds that beckon us into deep slumber like an anesthesiologist and the sweet ambrosial smell of spring, the quiddities of a house that makes up a home that provides a space for the humdrum: lovemaking, child-rearing, and the deep delights of everyday life. The nicotine of delight has made addicts out of all of us. Common graces fill up the pied spaces of our lives, and we unknowingly take deep draws. If you pay attention you will notice that people reek of secondhand grace. As life unfolds and you grow old, pay attention and you will find in this God-bathed world grace upon grace. Take a walk and listen to the birds talk, the sparrow who spares nothing but gives to the world everything. Take a walk in the spring and notice the life that springs. Why? Because spring spurns death, and spring is the mere prelude of the eternal May when Christ returns and New Creation blooms. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” Hopkins said. God’s grandeur is found in his glorious, small graces. Truly God has charged this world with the glory of grace. Grace hides in surprising places, so we get to play hide and seek with grace as we become children again who dally and dance, who happily yell “I found her! I found her!”

The beautiful thing about grace is that our receiving it does not depend on our knowledge of it, and so we are all secondhand smokers. To grow up in grace, however, we must know its source. The embryo of the Christian life begins with the Spirit hovering over the chaotic and confused soul to generate faith ex nihilo. Faith does not begin with the Holy Spirit nurturing it into being, for nurture implies preexistence. Rather, faith is given as a gift from God to a human. Faith is the beginning of our apprehension of heavenly things; this capacity of apprehension is not inherent but given by the Holy Spirit. The heavenly things must be illuminated to us. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:11 “For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.” Humans cannot conjure a capacity to comprehend the things of God. To understand the things of God we need the Spirit of God who “searches everything, even the depths of God” to teach us the depths of God revealed through Jesus Christ and sealed through the power of the Holy Spirit. All of this begins with faith that is generated by the Spirit of God. Karl Barth writes “gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightning.” If we receive the fullness of grace in Christ Jesus, we can then grow up in Christ full of gratitude and thanksgiving.

Pay attention and give thanks.


Andrew Goins is on staff for a campus ministry at Appalachian State University called Ratio Christi. He also works as a youth leader and worship leader at Arbor Dale Presbyterian Church in Banner Elk.

Andrew is committed to simply and thoroughly loving his wife Bethany, growing in his bible nerdiness, delighting in good books (theology, poetry, and select fiction), music, photography, creation, and in gathering people together for bible studies, a shared meal, or making music.

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