Mercy. Grace for the undeserved. We are all undeserving. In a word, this defines God’s love for people. Love cascading into the hearts of ones callous towards him, unaware of our need for him, scornful and dismissive when we think of him. But he keeps loving because that’s what will redeem us. It’s what turns us into people who show mercy. Receiving such a gift.
I think of the faces of Haitians living in the streets, piles of rubbish next to their tent homes. Mercy is what you feel as a fellow human recognizing their dignity beneath the rubble. It’s hard to describe because it’s what we need; the air we breathe. We show mercy because we are always being shown mercy. Not to better ourselves or to prove that we do in fact love the poor and the undeserving. But because we are the poor and the undeserving every minute of every day. Each breath I take is mercy. The ability to think, to write, to love, to savor a sunset and beauty and the sweet hand-in-hand walk with my daughter. All of it is mercy, constantly rushing over me and into me and THROUGH me.
Does mercy run through me? Pride hinders it. Pride tells me I don’t really need mercy, that I’ve somehow earned the grace in which I daily stand. Mercy humbles me, brings me to my knees, the only starting point for any love.
This is part of Lisa Jo’s “Five Minute Friday,” a five-minute writing prompt on one word every Friday.
I fold laundry
in my weary attempt
to organize my thoughts
hoping they will be sorted
tidy, categorized by type
with shelves, drawers, or cabinets
to call home
and rest there
till they’re needed.
Then back through the cycle
of use, wash, dry, fold, return.
Is this what your grace is meant to do?
Restore, cleanse, sort out my heart
When I am used up by love?
I should have known that beginning the day with a blog post entitled “Waiting for perfect,” would have been a sure-fire guarantee that the day ahead would give me challenges to that effect. And it did. I got frustrated with my kids because of trying to focus on adult conversations with friends who came over. They, in turn, responded to my frustration and lack of attention with (predictably for 2-year-olds) more acting out and clamoring/clingy behavior. Which frustrated me more, and I pushed them away, and then was so very glad to be leaving the house at 7pm for a meeting.
But this morning I feel it. That lingering sense of regret and guilt over yesterday. I awoke feeling a vague burden, nameless but very present. Then I reached for today’s devotional reading from a wonderful book (Grace Through the Ages) written by a good friend, former colleague/professor/counseling supervisor, Bill Smith. It met me exactly where I am, reminding me of truth and grace. Which is what my heart needed today, and what I will never outgrow my need for as long as I live.
Each time you sin against an infinite being you incur an infinite debt. How many lifetimes would you need to pay off just one sin? Little wonder people find so many ways to distract their minds and harden their consciences. Who could live with the enormity of that crushing debt?
Hence the psalmist’s conclusion [in Psalm 32] that you are blessed when God chooses to cancel what you ow (Psalm 32:1-2). You are so blessed that, despite the troubles of life that come even to God’s people (Psalm 32:7), you have more than enough cause to trust this God (Psalm 32:10), to run to him (Psalm 32:7) and to rejoice (Psalm 32:11).