Mercy and grace . . . two heavenly gifts that make all the difference for human life on planet earth. A tangible awareness of these gifts is essential for our walk of faith. We’ve talked much about grace because we love the gifts God bestows but what about mercy?
Unfortunately, we can’t talk about mercy if we’re not honest about our faith. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for forty years and despite my best intentions, in a thousand ways every day I still miss the mark. When I’m not honest about my need for mercy, I simply take it for granted.
Do we struggle to singularly love God above all else? If so, we haven’t been captured by mercy. Jesus said the one who’s been forgiven much, loves most (Luke 7:47). Are we aware of how much we’ve been forgiven . . . how much we continue to need forgiveness? When we see our daily need for mercy, we open our hearts to be captured by God’s love.
We need mercy because the life to which Christ calls us is won not through giant leaps as much as two steps forward and one step back. Unfortunately, it’s that one step back that tends to cast its spell of shame to ever genuinely take another one forward. Only mercy can shatter such shame and rebuke such condemnation.
Let’s also not limit our understanding of mercy to our first confession of faith when we knew Jesus had forgiven all our sins. For many, mercy remains ever enshrined in that singular event, a static reality stuck in our historical past. We need a present mercy because the journey to a vibrant faith is ever sprinkled with broken efforts and failed attempts to do and be as we should today.
Mercy is not an abstract gift as though God generically forgives our sins . . . whatever they may have been or ever could be. No, mercy is found in the moment, in our worst moments. We discover mercy when God shows us his love in the midst of our unloveliness. We find mercy in the specificity of our failure when he freely forgives despite our ongoing battle to vanquish our vices.
Yes, this is mercy in its severest form—God takes our brokenness, failures, and regrets and turns them into pathways of transformation when we cry out in such places of need. This is no license to sin for when we take his mercy for granted we forfeit this gift that could have been ours. Therefore, may we ever be quick to confess our need and even quicker to embrace the mercy of God. Next week, I introduce our second posture of holy desperation—the posture of stillness.
What Do You Think?
How do you tend to think of mercy . . . in general or specific terms? What would an on-going awareness of God’s mercy look like in your life?
♦ To see the video and poem this post is based on, click here.