Tender Mercies

Journal 2008. When I read “. . . heart of tender mercy and lovingkindness of our God (Luke 1:78), I have a hard time reconciling in my mind God’s tender mercies with His terrible judgment. Sure, I believe that murderers and rapists and idolaters need God’s judgment, but He died for their sins too.

My dilemma, however, is not with them but with me. Where in my life have I misunderstood and not accepted God’s tender love and mercy? Am I self-condemning where I should be accepting? Do I have a false belief that if I accept His tender mercies, it means I deserve it? That cannot be, for if I deserve it, it becomes my works, and then pride follows.

I am no better than the pagan. I have simply followed the path God put me on. He gave me the parents, the heritage, the grounding, and the training. Why wouldn’t I respond the way I have? If I had been born into a peasant hut in China of Buddhist heritage, would I not have followed the path He set me on and gone into a Christless eternity? How fair is that?

I am blessed, chosen, humbled, undeserving. Why did God choose me? I don’t know. But once chosen, I had a choice—follow Him or disobey. I chose to follow; I don’t know why. I could have had a rebellious, angry, defiant heart. I credit my response to my parents and how they raised me.

I was chosen for some reason. God likes me and the way He made me. He thinks I’m special. I cannot worry about His relationship with the rest of humanity. I can only sit in awe and wonder that He loves me—me of all people!

Jesus gave me gifts—a bag of chocolates. And He wants me to share them—hand them out, give them away, offer them to anyone who comes into my path. I’ve been chosen, yes—to be a blessing.

You Made Your Own Bed . . .

From my 2009 Journal. A few years ago, I had a friend (A) who adopted two girls from another country. One day my friend injured her leg and she struggled to take care of them. Another friend (B) dismissed it with the attitude “Well, she asked for it.” (i.e. she had no business adopting if she couldn’t afford them.) I was shocked and surprised at B’s attitude. Yes, Friend A had made that choice, and yes, she has to live with her choices, but it wasn’t A’s fault that she injured her leg and needed compassionate help.

Perhaps I should examine my own heart, however. A smoker I know is struggling with emphysema, and I don’t feel like giving him any sympathy. Of course I would never withhold getting an oxygen tank to him if he ran out, but I’d still roll my eyes and think he made his own bed and must lie in it! I guess I’m no better than Friend B and her judgment.

Or I think of someone who struggles with physical challenges because she is obese. Do I withhold compassion and mercy when she has a stroke? In a way, you could say she asked for it, but I don’t think that’s the right response. Instead, I need God’s compassion for her in her debilitating state. In the same way, I need God’s pity and mercy for my own struggles that keep me bound and powerless to change.

The thing is, I can readily see the solution to everyone else’s problem, but find it harder to deal with my own. Quit smoking! Lose weight! Turn to Christ! Let go of your anger! Forgive that person who hurt you! But when I look inward at my own issues, I find I can easily make excuses for my own actions and attitudes.

You may have made your own bed and must lie in it, but I can choose to help you change your sheets.

monkeys in bed 2