Thou knowest my need is great indeed, Lord, hear me when I cry.”~John Newton
Throughout my life of faith, grace (or rather Grace) has meant everything to me. The knowledge, belief and experience that Grace is real, has been a bedrock for me. Grace: being given something I didn’t ask for and don’t deserve that’s more than I could imagine. I’ve been given saving Grace, sustaining Grace, guiding Grace, and forgiving Grace. It’s all a gift.
Lately, another reality of God ignites my soul: Mercy.
Grace is all about Love…free, unconditional, pure, saving love.
Mercy has a quality that’s different. Mercy suggests being spared from something. There’s an element of judgement in Mercy that makes it even more wonderful. I deserve A but am shown Mercy and get B instead. Beautiful.
The words above by John Newton, who also composed “Amazing Grace”, grip my heart each time I hear them.
I show up, beggar poor…nothing to offer, nothing to give…at Mercy’s door. He opens the door and instead of sending me away empty-handed or throwing me some scraps then slamming the door in my face, He invites me in. Essentially, because of sin, we’re all strangers to Him. And yet, even as a stranger, because of His Mercy, He opens the doors wide open. He asks me to live there…in this place of Mercy.
But here’s the thing, if I leave Mercy’s door, I leave beggar poor once again. I can’t go there, fill up and expect to distribute the wealth I’ve been given as if I were Father Christmas. No, I come a beggar, and if I leave, I leave a beggar. So often, we, as Christians talk about being “filled” in such a superficial way. It’s as if you can tank up on God like you would gas and run for a while until you’re empty then go back for more filling. He’s not a cosmic gas station. I come to God with nothing and I leave Him with nothing.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” ~the apostle John