I have been given such mercy in my life. Mercy and grace. Grace giving me what I don’t deserve and mercy not giving me what I do.
I deserve such condemnation. Such punishment. But I’ve been given forgiveness and favor and fellowship. Belonging and acceptance. I was an outsider, and now I am in Christ. And He loves me.
I’m overwhelmed by the grace and mercy I’ve been given. Mercy longs to not give what is merited. What has been earned. Mercy sees the sin, the ugliness and knows that punishment is righteous, but longs to withhold, to put away that punishment. Mercy volunteered to take on the punishment that was deserved so that Justice could be satisfied.
My heart hurts when I think of the punishment for my sins being taken by my Savior. I know where I’ve walked. I know what I’ve done. I know the evil deeds I have executed. And He took the punishment for all of them, just as if He had committed those acts Himself. He accepted responsibility for them. He who knew no sin became sin on our (my) behalf so that we (I) might become the righteousness of God in Him.
He exchanged my sin for His righteousness. And the wrath of God (against sin) was satisfied.
Who can fathom the love and mercy of a Holy, Perfect God who would take His own prescribed punishment so that we didn’t have to?
Who can fathom a Loving God who knew we would sin and depart from Him, and made a way for us to come back. Who loves us so much that He willingly laid down His own life to pay for our sins.
Mercy says “I’m not going to give you what you deserve.” Grace says “I’m going to give you what I deserve instead.”
How difficult it can be to accept that, though. It’s a free gift and I am constantly looking for the hidden strings. I’m constantly looking for the tasks to complete so I can feel I’ve earned it. Unmerited favor…I don’t deserve it. Yet I have it.
When someone has given me something that I don’t deserve, I tend to set it on a shelf, afraid to damage it, afraid to use it, afraid to abuse it, break it, lose it. It sits there on the shelf not fulfilling it’s intended function. It has become useless. A pretty object to look at, but not adding any value to my day-to-day life.
I have trouble accepting something from someone that I feel I haven’t earned. I have trouble asking for help from someone when I can’t repay them, having nothing to offer in return.
I had trouble with the idea of coming back to God, when it would float through my mind, because I didn’t feel I could be good enough to deserve fellowship with Him. Not only did I have all these past deeds that would have to be dealt with, but I truly didn’t feel that I could maintain that “goodness”, the level of “righteousness” that being in fellowship with Him would require.
But He accepted me, my pitiful, filthy, damaged and decayed self, with open arms…not only “accepted” me, but pursued me, searched for me, called to me, longed for me. Love and Mercy and Grace searched through the night, called my name over and over, longing to restore me.
He saw my pathetic condition, sat down beside me, and said “come home.” I was cowering in a corner, sure that I would fail Him, that I would never be clean enough, good enough to enjoy being with Him.
I remember thinking, while I was walking in deliberate sin, that I could never have Him again. That I had closed that door. That I had turned my back and walked away. There was sorrow with the thought. But I had made my bed, now I had to lie in it. I had chosen this life, now I was stuck with it.
I had people who would mention in casual conversation, as believers tend to do, that they had prayed about this or that. And I would think, I can’t do that. I can’t pray. I don’t have that right anymore. I pictured myself stoically trudging along, knowing that I was going to lose, knowing I was alone, on my own, no one to save me, to come to my rescue, but determined to accept that state as my reality because I had chosen it. I had no way out and it was my own fault.
When things had gotten really bad in my life, and I found myself trapped in an unlivable situation, every moment of my life consumed by the situation I was in, I cried out to God one evening. Literally sobbing I prayed to a God who I didn’t believe would hear me, would help me, begging Him to “get me out of this.”
The “this” I was in was of my own making. I had made all the choices that put me where I was. I did it. Me, myself, and I were the only ones responsible. What I didn’t specifically choose, I allowed, gave permission to, invited in. It was the bed I had made, and it had become intolerable.
Justice would have looked at me, heard my cry, and pronounced sentence on me. I didn’t deserve rescue. I didn’t deserve help. I had turned my back on God and everything to do with Him.
Mercy looked at me and came running.
Mercy, God’s mercy, began the process at that very moment, I believe. It was a few months before I was out of the situation, and a little over a year before I hit my rock bottom and turned back to Him. That blows my mind and overwhelms me. He began working at my desperate cry, knowing that I had over a year before I would truly turn back to Him. He gave me mercy in the moment that I didn’t deserve. Not after a period of time, not eventually…immediately. Not after I had cleaned up some, not after I truly recognized the state I was in. He knew that I would continue to scorn Him, continue to push Him away. But He also knew that He had put me on the road back to Himself.
Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
Oh my friend, He has mercy for you. He longs to restore you, to bring you back to Him. To pour out on you His blessings, His love, His grace, His mercy. It doesn’t matter where you’ve walked; it doesn’t matter what you’ve chosen, what you’ve done. His mercy wants you. His love is big and deep and wide and long, and the end of it cannot be reached. He longs for you. He’s searching for you, longing to bring you back to Him. He’s saying to you “come home.”
You don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. There’s nothing you or I could ever do that would deserve it. But He gives it, because He loves you.