Time just flies by, doesn’t it? My husband still often reminds me, “These are the best days of our lives.” The kids are still at home with us, we’re healthy and able to get out and do things, and despite lack of permanent employment for my husband, God just keeps on providing for us beyond our needs.
I was just talking to a friend tonight about God’s mercy. She was sharing her redemption story with me – and hers is one of those stories of God’s literal rescue from some very dangerous and dark places. The overwhelming theme of her life is God’s mercy to her. We were talking about how we so often feel like we don’t deserve God’s goodness and blessing … and in all honesty, we don’t – whether we grew up in Christian home sheltered from all the “bad things” in the world or whether we grew up facing some very difficult circumstances and horrible situations. It doesn’t matter – at the core, we are all sinners – big sins, little sins – it is all sin. We don’t deserve anything good – just our Creator’s wrath and anger … and yet HE LOVES. He loves with amazing, merciful, gracious love. He loves so much that He offers to redeem us, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and beyond that to BLESS US abundantly and generously. He promises to provide what we need and to show us His paths, the way that is best for us, even when we doubt and are ungrateful. Amazing mercy.
This friend and I share a very simliar background of having grown up in church, knowing God as our Savior, but seeing Him as a very judging, angry God – a God to be feared and a God who was always ready to crush us if we did wrong. While this way of thinking made me try very hard to be good enough, it established a huge sense of guilt in me for even the smallest of things I thought I did wrong or were not completely perfect. For my friend, it drove her to not care about this God who she thought didn’t really care about her. But as adults, we have both come to the same conclusion – that God loves us beyond what we can comprehend. And it is this LOVE – this unconditional LOVE – that has drawn both of us to seek God again in a whole different way. To see Him being loving and merciful and kind – wanting our best even through the trials of life – working in us to make us what He intends for us to be – desiring a personal relationship with us – offering to forgive us over and over – extending His mercy – guiding and refining us as a parent does with effective, purposeful discipline. He isn’t willing that we perish – He doesn’t want us to fail – it isn’t that He can’t wait to judge and condemn us … He LOVES us and would much rather we just love Him enough in return to remain close to Him.
It is as simple as the song that Miriam now sings spontaneously all the time: Jesus loves me – this I know. Or as someone changed it: Jesus knows me, this I love. He loves us even though He knows all about us. I hope you believe that He really loves you too …