blessings for healing: suffering

We have to be gentle with the hard words of Jesus.
Hating the messenger, though, is kind of part of the deal.

I woke up early, remembering a promise.

Even though all fall away, I will never . . . 

I look out at the darkness. If I open the backdoor soon, I will hear the neighbor’s rooster announce the sunrise.

. . . even if I have to die with You. And all the disciples said the same thing, too.

My eyes itch from sleepiness. My daughter’s Snuggie wrapped around me to keep me warm. And I am full of sympathy for the first followers of Jesus. The ones who were right there. He had warned them it was time, He told them He was in agony, and He asked them to be on the look out while He prayed. But they were tired.

So you men could not keep watch with me for one hour?
Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation;
the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Matthew 26:40-41

* * * * *

I am convicted about effort. And how this week has become just like any other. How my excited dinner plans of two days ago went out the window last night with everyone scattered to activity. All it would have taken on my part was a little effort. A little self denial. A trip to the store. And maybe turning off the tv.

Ugh. Willing, but weak. So, so weak.

Jesus went alone to trial. To beatings. The disciples fled.

By morning, the crowds that had praised on Sunday were screaming crucifixion.

Peter grieved. He had made a promise to Jesus — a vow — and he couldn’t even last the night.

But all eleven disciples who fell asleep in the garden that night, who were afraid and fled, who denied they knew Jesus, who hid among the crowds, would suffer in time. Trials, beatings, stonings, imprisonment, exile, extremes of torture to death.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  — Matthew 5:10-12

I wonder how many of the disciples clung to these words in their own hours of agony.

* * * * *

My life has been ease. 

I’ve never been beaten, thrown in prison, or condemned to death for what I believe — and  I am not likely to.

But people are, still, today suffering for their commitment to follow Christ. They are fulfilling the promise to go with Jesus all the way — even if they have to die, they will not deny Him.

I think of Pastor Saeed, an American citizen who has been imprisoned and tortured and is awaiting a trial in Iran. And the thousands of others like him today, persecuted for their faith. (A news website, persecutionreport.org just launched this week to alert us of Christians who are suffering worldwide.)

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3

I have suffered nothing.

Because I have had the good fortune of growing up, not just in a country that has the freedom of religion built right in to its Constitution. Because I was born into a family that embraced Christianity as truth.

In his book St. Francis of Assisi, G.K. Chesterton wrote:

“Through all his plunging and restless days ran the refrain: I have not suffered enough; I have not sacrificed enough; I am not yet worthy of the shadow of the crown of thorns.”

And since I finished reading the book last week, I’ve had a song flowing through my mind:

Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease,
while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas? — Isaac Watts

I have lived a comfortable life of ease when it comes to being a Christian. It’s easy to take it for granted.

* * * * *

But, the Beatitudes are just a preface. Jesus is about to open up a can of worms, and I get a little nauseous just thinking about it. Because as much as people love blessed are the merciful, they hate the hard words of Jesus.

I take a look at the words past this point of the Sermon on the Mount, and I want to hold up a white flag and shout, “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

Hating the messenger, though, is kind of part of the deal. (There’s a caution here, though. Because some people like to claim being hated as a badge of honor. The fact people don’t like you doesn’t always mean you’re in the right.)

We have to be gentle with these hard words of Jesus.

Jumping onto political bandwagons, identifying publicly with a controversial cause just to provoke argument, re-posting memes with witty retorts . . .  only in the free West can we afford such wanton displays of wearing Christianity without costly discipleship. In the West, Christians have the luxury of fighting amongst ourselves over Jesus’ words, of writing multitudes of books on them . . .

If it began to cost me something to follow Christ, to do and speak His words, would I follow? If the government and the will of the majority stripped away every last vestige of morality and sanctity of human life, and my beliefs are shouted down as bigotry and hate-speech?

The truth is, following Jesus will cost something. Even in America.

* * * * *

As the sun rises this morning, I am praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ, like Pastor Saeed, who are suffering more than I will ever know.

And I am thinking of Peter, who watched from the shadows that long morning while Jesus, beaten and bleeding, carried the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. Peter, who had no idea at that moment what he was going to suffer for teaching Jesus’ hard words.

And I see hope for all who cower, ashamed of themselves, in the shadow of the crown of thorns.

Peter wrote a letter about suffering, very likely from Rome, where Nero was using Christians as torches to light his parties and feeding them to lions to amuse the jaded and bloodthirsty masses.

Here are some of Saint Peter’s words for this Good Friday:

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;
and while being reviled, He did not revile in return;
while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross,
so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. I Peter 2:21-24

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.  I Peter 3:14

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing,
as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ,
keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed. I Peter 4:12-14

blessings for healing, brotherhood

Peacemaking is not all sanitized photo-ops and signed documents and kisses on cheeks and shaking hands.
Real peace-making is ugly, painful, costly.

I have officially bitten off more than I can chew.

Peacemaker should have been easy for me. I hate conflict.

But I’ve been fooled by a cheap sort of peace-making. Contented with a peace that seems right, but merely pacifies. Hiding turmoil to maintain a semblance of harmony.

There are a million times when not taking into account a wrong suffered is absolutely, undeniably right.

Sometimes, I keep my mouth shut because so many are indiscriminately opening theirs to spout out what they think. Wounding without noticing over things like eating meat. Perhaps my silence balances out the noisy, ridiculous, divisive universe in a small way . . .

But real peace-making does not simply pacify. It does not put away quietly. It does not smooth things over.

Real peace-making wounds and binds up. Speaks truth that is painful but right. And in the end brings real peace — Shalom to men, women and children who are broken.

Because the Hebrew word Shalom means wholeness, completeness, healing , not merely the absence of strife.*

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are few.

* * * * *

In the darkness of early morning I read about a time I am too young, and too western, to really know.

A time when our culture ignored terrible, abusive evil. When men defended white supremacy from the pulpit and advocated dehumanizing Jim Crow laws.

But a preacher started preaching that these things ought not to be, and led the way down an agonizing road toward racial harmony — toward real peace. Years of beatings followed, not just for him, but for anyone who dared to speak out against the status quo.

He was never going to change the hearts of the racists. But he got our nation to open its eyes to the evil we had been tolerating by silence. Cultures don’t just change over night.

. . . Not once in his career did an official of Selma or Jackson or Albany or Cicero respond to his entreaties by saying, “You know, Dr. King, you’re right. We are racists, and these discriminatory laws are unjust, unconstitutional, unbiblical, and just plain wrong.  We’re sorry. We’ll repent and start over.” Not once. It took more than King’s prophetic words to cut through the moral calluses of bigots like me.  — Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor

It’s been nearly 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. exposed the ugly underbelly of America. Didn’t we settle this? Can’t we move on? This is what pacifiers say.

But the reality is you can’t just say, We changed the law! And expect it all to be fixed. It takes more than a generation to heal hundreds of years of oppression.

Peacemakers know superficial harmony is not the goal. That there cannot be real peace without healing, and healing people and communities takes time. Real peacemakers are in it for the long haul.

* * * * *

I’ve noticed a thing about people. We lose interest quickly. Something that grips our hearts one day, drops off our radar the next . . .

Sex trafficking is a hot button right now in America. Suddenly, fighting this injustice is in vogue, when the evil has existed for practically all of time.

But maybe, like the Church of 1960’s, we have to be shocked into noticing.

I sat in a room last week with other marketing professionals, while the CEO of an amazing organization shared an astonishing plight.

The problem is that this organization is fulfilling the whole message of peace. They are not merely rescuing, but mostly restoring. Not just child prostitutes, but the severely neglected. They help bring healing to deep wounds and build new lives — a process that takes years, lifetimes. Generations.

And years doesn’t fit the current fad.

Do we really just want to jump on a bandwagon, talk about how evil something is, throw a little money and attention at it, and say God bless you, be in peace?

Statistics say yes. Christians (in general) will support rescue. But not recovery.

We love the results of peacemaking. But the process bores us. 

But abused and broken people need a compassionate and selfless peacemaker who will actually get in the pool where they are drowning and swim-drag them to shore.

True restoring-to-wholeness peace is not made in a manipulated forgiveness session, a little book of verses, or a statement of one-sided reconciliation. The wounds of abuse don’t just go away over night.

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 8:11

Peacemakers are in the fight, day after non-glorious day, passionate — and sometimes prickly — because they make us uncomfortable in our comfort. Weary, exhausted, but driven on by thirst for justice and backed by the God who sees and does not abandon forever. They are taking Shalom — healing and wholeness — to people broken, cast aside and forgotten.

This kind of peace-making isn’t for everyone. In fact, sometimes is just not appropriate to be there. Victims aren’t looking to be trophies on a mantle-piece (this is exploitation).

Awareness is good. Support is better. But make no mistake, victims of abuse aren’t actually healed by legions of people creating awareness or “standing with them.”

Blessed are those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9

* * * * *

I am guilty of settling for an insidious counterfeit of peace.

The brokenness in our home, caused by addiction was exacerbated by my false-peacemaking response to it. And not only mine. Other people who bought the deception of superficial peace.

Being a peacemaker does not mean playing nice together. It doesn’t mean conceding so as not to make a big scandal. It doesn’t mean blindly submitting to a leader whose advice is to keep quiet. It doesn’t mean sweeping up the mess made by an addict time and again and not letting them feel the weight of their sins.  There’s a word for this behavior . . . and it isn’t peacemaker.

Because real peace-making is a nasty business.

Peacemaking is not all sanitized photo-ops and signed documents and kisses on cheeks and shaking hands. Real peace-making is ugly, painful, costly. It involves exposing, cleaning, scourging.

Remember, this is Jesus who said blessed are the peacemakers . . .

Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Jesus, despised and rejected. Jesus, betrayed, beaten, spit on, mocked. Jesus, cursed by crowds as he walked streets where he was praised a week before.

Jesus, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree. (I Peter 2:24)

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Jesus, who reconciled man with God through His death on a bloody cross. Exposed, humiliated, broken for all the world to see.

He himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14) Our atonement. (I John 2:2)

Jesus, the ultimate peacemaker, who through His suffering made peace between God and man forever.

Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. Ephesians 2:12-17

* * * * *

I sometimes wonder if a culture that has made a practice generation after generation of separating from anyone with whom we disagree can be a vessel of true peace.

How can a fractured and fragmented Church really bring wholeness and healing to the broken?

If the blessing for the peacemaker is to be called the children of God, and aren’t all believers children of God?  Doesn’t that mean we are all called to be peacemakers in some way?

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:3-6

And here is where I leave this very long post for now. In far over my head. Pondering deep theological issues and attempting to practice baby steps toward peace. God has put people in my life who have brought me so much peace. The real kind, healing, wholeness. It wasn’t anything fancy or dramatic. It was listening, loving, waiting, staying and I am sure a lot of praying.  And I know Dave would say the same thing.

What about you? Where are you being called to bring healing? (If you haven’t had enough, read Isaiah 58  and ask God to show you where to take His peace.)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. — St. Francis of Assisi

blessings for healing, seeing God

I can’t help thinking we’ve gotten so much wrong. And by we, I mean us “right” people. The ones who’ve studied and parsed and dissected. He wants us to look up from our books and sermon notes.

“Lord, when did we see you?”

I’ve been wrestling with this beatitude for a couple of weeks now.

Because there are other things cluttering my mind and heart right now, and these words seem so irrelevant.

And yet, they aren’t.

I’m not sure how to put words to this burden. A bag of rocks? Or a kettle, boiling till it screams?

The words are still forming.

I hate having to speak while the words are still forming. When you have stifled and hushed your voice for years and is finally set free, it doesn’t always come out pretty. So you may want to buckle up.  Because my heart is burning to speak.

It’s been a week of attempting to speak my mind. Aloud. And not just on paper. Or in cyberspace.

And the strangest thing set it off.

* * * * *

I have to fight the urge to be reclusive. 

I love to be home with my family. I love to study. My favorite activities in all the world are reading, writing and reflecting. Inviting people in does not come naturally, and it takes very little to stifle a spark of hospitality.

I’ve been unfolding the reason why for a few years.

Appearance has something to do with it — I just couldn’t pretend all was well in my house when it wasn’t. Couldn’t pretend my husband and I got along when we didn’t.

And my house has never been the Pottery Barn showcase of my dreams. Again, appearance.

But home has also been a safety zone. A layer of protection for healing deep wounds.

I wrestle with how much of my reclusiveness is just personality and how much of it comes from wounds I need to let God heal. Either way, hiding and studying the Bible for hours and hours isn’t at all what Jesus called me to. In fact, He is calling me from it.

Suppose I have the gift of prophecy. Suppose I can understand all the secret things of God and know everything about him. And suppose I have enough faith to move mountains. If I don’t have love, I am nothing at all. I Corinthians 13:2

God has healed so much. And I don’t care as much about appearance. My skin is a little tougher. I won’t crumble at careless remarks about my mismatched furniture, and I don’t often care who knows what about my family. I’m not trying to please anyone but God with how I raise my kids.

And I know that hours of studying the Bible and writing a blog or a book don’t mean anything if I can’t love the people around me. Love. Patience, kindness, humility. Not love in theory. Love in life. To love people, you might actually have to be around them once in a while. To have conflict with them sometimes.

Here is where I fall down, hard. The fact that I have a massive amount of Bible knowledge and doctrine in my head and yet struggle to get past myself and my insecurities to reach out to someone who needs love and attention keeps me humble. And that’s good. I need humble.

Which brings me back to what sparked conflict.

I try to steer clear of preachers who fill my head with more knowledge and less application.  So I don’t often listen to people who call themselves “the Bible Answerman” or have their names emblazoned on Study Bibles. I’ve had plenty of that. I need to be a do-er now, not a hear-er.

But I was in the car, headed to a meeting at an unusual time, and happened to catch a speaker I never listen to teachan entire lesson on John Calvin. He went on and on about Calvin’s faultfinding with the Church. And how Calvin wrote volumes and volumes of his opinions. Opinions borne out of reclusive study — a lifestyle which this preacher praised.

The preacher talked about Geneva at the time Calvin lived and mentioned prostitutes and how well their business was regulated: prostitutes had licenses and men were allowed a wife and “only” one mistress.

And then this preacher/author/leader made a joke. “Geneva’s regulated prostitution must have been where Calvin got the doctrine that ‘all things should be done decently and in order’.” And I wanted to vomit.

Because I’d just seen this video about organized prostitution rings. And I could not imagine how a man of God could make such a disgusting joke if he was at all acquainted with the very real and present sufferings of millions of women and children.

As the week unfolded, there was more. So much more. Church sex abuse cases: Calvary Chapel, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas,  piled onto two years of my sister’s fight against abuse victims being silenced in the name of Jesus from our own childhood.

And in the midst of all of this scandal and pain, true to the form, the leader of my alma mater has chosen to stir up the his followers against the Catholic Churchwhose leader he calls the Anti-Christ, a sentiment written down for posterity (I learned from this other preacher’s broadcast) by John Calvin himself.

Friends. If this isn’t a picture of the day Jesus stepped into, I don’t know what is. 

Washing the outside of the cup. So concerned about jots and tittles while children in their churches suffer at the hands of abusers.

And here it is. The irony to me. The throwing of scripture spears at a church that reverences their leader when, hear this, these learned men of church history and today are so very right that millions of people bow to these men’s interpretations of Scripture.

I’ve heard it with my own ears: “If she were under [said preacher’s] teaching, she would have known better.”  Because,in the eyes of a massive number of his followers, this preacher has a corner on the market of Truth.

We’ve elevated right so far above love that even at massive gatherings of preachers the terrible plight of millions of suffering women and children is not a priority on the agenda — but the wrongness of another church’s doctrine is?

My heart breaks.

And I come back to Jesus. And He says at this point in my journey through the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Not blessed are the separatists. Not blessed are those who do great things and say right things and are heard and followed.

It’s not rightness. The Teachers of the Law were right.

Jesus was talking about the heart of purity.

About serving God with no thought of self. With no platform. Caring for widows, orphans, the abused, addicts, homeless and lepers in their distress. 

Do you know who I see?

I see a tiny little woman in a the pit of Calcutta, taking Living Water to the untouchables the world has cast aside.

No thought of theological superiority. No appearance of purity dressed in a three piece suit that we find out later used Bible study as a means for selfish pleasure that would destroy children’s lives.

No. Just actually doing what Jesus would do.

I see a woman a very “right” preacher has consigned to hell along with her Church.*

And I can’t help thinking we’ve gotten so much wrong. And by we, I mean us “right” people. The ones who’ve studied and parsed and dissected. He wants us to look up from our books and sermon notes.

“Lord, when did we see you?”

Now, famous theologians and preachers! You see Him right now.

Now in the faces of the children who need you to enforce child protection policies in your church. Now in faces of women and men in your pews who have suffered a degradation you will never understand but make jokes about. Right now in the faces of  men and women whose abuse you covered for the “reputation” of a ministry and forced forgive their abuser face to face.

Do you not hear Jesus calling you out of your commentaries, Lexicons, and theological journals and conferences?

I do.

He is calling me out of the comfort of my books, my journals, my couch and my coffee.

And this is my first step.

Jesus never told the Pharisees they were wrong. This is a word  I read about the woman taken in adultery that I’ve not been able to shake from my head. But something was wrong. Because He called them whitewashed sepulchres full of dead men’s bones.

When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her.
It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. 

You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing.
Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.
Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little
child, you receive me.

There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things.

I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.

― Mother Teresa

Blessed are the pure in heart. For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

* * * * *

*Just in case it isn’t clear, I do not at all subscribe to the sweeping statements of Catholicism being a road to hell. There are true believers and there are “workers of iniquity” anywhere. And no church is immune to wolves in sheep’s clothing. But God does the sifting. Not man. And that’s for my next post.

blessings for healing: mercy

Dave thought the camellia was the bush I was referring to when I said, “That bush is ugly, and now I can see it through the bedroom window.”

Unfortunately, we have three bedroom windows . . .

Camellia buds.

I noticed them yesterday, and I can’t wait for them to open. But I won’t be able to see them out my bedroom window like I almost could last year.

Because Dave thought the camellia was the bush I was referring to when I said, “That bush is ugly, and now I can see it through the bedroom window.”

Unfortunately, we have three bedroom windows . . .

He was so pleased to surprise me with cutting back the offensive bush — and then so crushed by his terrible mistake. Camellias remind me it’s actually spring when for all the world there is no difference in the weather here from winter to July.  I had waited three years for the rosy red flowers to grow that last foot to the window so I could see them from inside the house. I cried — a little.

But the sudden flash of memory of To Kill a Mockingbird and Jem with Scout’s baton whacking away at budding camellias in a blind fury made me laugh. For some reason, I had always pictured a hydrangea as the recipient of rage.  But hydrangeas grow back to their full height, even if you cut them all the way to the ground. Camellias do not. They are slow. And I suddenly understood how Jem whacking the tops off the camellias really was “getting back” at Mrs. Dubose.

So, I point out the camellia buds and Dave apologizes again and we laugh and I remember how I accidentally broke the top of his convertible when we were dating . . .

We’re celebrating our 21st anniversary. And we’ve been through so much worse than these mistakes.

* * * * *

A picture of mercy rests comfortably in my mind.

A man, beaten by robbers, lays by the side of the road . . .  a foreign stranger rescues him while the poor man’s own countrymen pass him by. I feel compassion toward the wounded, desperate man. After all, he was a victim. It was nothing he did. He was attacked.

I would like mercy to stay there. To be that. I can muster that sort of mercy.

But there are other pictures of mercy. . .

A servant, deep in a debt he can’t repay begs mercy of his master, and the master graciously forgives every penny. But when a fellow servant owes the newly-debt-free servant a small amount of money, instead of forgiving (as he has been forgiven), he throws the man in prison.

This is harder. As much as I don’t want to be the wicked servant in theory, I am, too often, in practice . . . but I can follow this, too.  Do unto others . . .

* * * * *

Sometimes, I think it is a miracle that he is still married to me.

I have been so exacting. So critical. So judgmental. So reminding. So merciless. And so very, very right.

I have wanted to draw a line in the sand and make my case. To say, Teacher, did you not see what he did?  He’s an addict. He lied. He stole. He broke my heart.

But I can’t draw that line. Because Jesus already did.

There was a woman, caught in the act of a sin — punishable by death by stoning, according to the laws given by God to Moses. And the people came to Jesus, ready, with the stones in their hands.

We don’t know what Jesus wrote in the sand. But when he finally looked up, everyone was gone except the woman.

. . . He never told them they were wrong. How did I miss that? What He said was, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I read this story in a book at a time when I needed very much to hear it:

I wonder whether, when these teachers of the law first signed up as young men to devote themselves to a life of service, they had warm hearts for God and for others. Weren’t they in fact motivated by love? But over time, something had happened. All their learning about Scripture filled them with pride. All their efforts at obedience filled them with disdain for the less devout. All their giftedness filled them with impatience toward those who were weaker. . . and they became as enslaved by a cold heart as an addict can become enslaved by crack cocaine… at least with the sins of the flesh, you find out you have messed up. With the sins of the spirit, you may not even know. You just walk through life with a stone in your hand: judgmental thoughts, a superior attitude, impatient words, bitter resentments. — John Ortberg

They were right, you know. The people. Right about the rules.

And there is the awfulness of it all. Letting go of rightness for mercy.

Has God punished you to the fullest extent of the law for your sins? Well, then . . . mercy can’t be about what we deserve.

Dave knew he was a sinner in need of mercy, but I had seen myself as a martyr and saint. I didn’t really, really believe I was in need of mercy, too. At least not to that extent. And that was the turning point.

Mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is restraint. Mercy is risk.

And mercy is also love.

It isn’t love to allow someone to destroy themselves or to abuse. It isn’t love to cover an addiction or crime. I have been there, too. When I dropped the rock I held against my husband, God, in His mercy, kept Dave there.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  Titus 3:4-5

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.” Tim Keller

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Matthew 5:7

* * * * *

I would like to write more about mercy. All day long. But today I want to spend time with the man who loves me.

If you want to read more about mercy, here are two wonderful links I came across. The beauty of mercy is almost too much here: http://www.taize.fr/en_article6825.html and here: http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T4234 And of course, I highly recommend Everybody’s Normal Til You Get to Know Them by John Ortberg.camellias