I love lazy clouds lingering at the tops of bare trees and sunbeams fighting to display their radiance in the dim morning light. I love the reassurance of life as I feel my lungs fill with cool, sharp air and my skin prickle with goose bumps while exhaling prayers of thanksgiving for yet another day, which on their own, resemble hazy rain clouds drifting heavenward in the early winter mornings. I love clear, dark mornings when stars still dot the sky, reminding me my God is so much bigger than I, so much more in control that I, so much more powerful and all-knowing than I. It’s exciting to embark on day where promises will be fulfilled, hopes will be dreamed, and new mercies will be gifted.
I’ve always associated mornings with mercy. I’m pretty sure it’s because when I was a wee girl growing up in a small Baptist church, we sung a hymn inspired by Lamentations 3:22-23, which speaks about God’s mercies being new every morning. We sung this hymn so often, seemingly every. single. Sunday, that I can still hear the slow, and I do mean s-l-o-w, organ’s vibrato in the back of my mind to this day. It wasn’t a song I particularly liked (can you tell?), however, the words acted as a key ingredient in the foundation on which I’ve built my now 43 years upon. I am not a glass-half-full kind of girl by chance. I am a glass-half-full kind of girl because mercy was planted and nurtured throughout my entire life.
Mercy is often misunderstood. When it isn’t overlooked, it’s taken for granted or confused with something it is not. And what I mean by that is that we often believe we deserve more or better or something other than what we have received. And although that maybe true, when we look for what we DON’T have, we miss what we DO have. And that’s exactly my point. Remember the story of the Israelites and how even though the Lord daily provided manna (bread) for them, they still cried out for meat? Remember how God eventually gave into their pleas and in the end they realized that they really had no desire for it after all? (Exodus 15-16) I think we’re a little like that too. We want all that Christ offers in addition to the perks of the world. Thinking about this, I wonder just how much we miss of God’s glory when we are searching for something we have assigned more significance to?
Robert Gelinas points out in his book, “The Mercy Prayer”, that mercy is “compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, steadfast love, unfailing love, goodness, generous love, and loving kindness”. You may read that list and quickly make the connection that those are attributes of Christ; and you would be correct! Mercy is at the core of Who Christ is! (Psalm 103). I feel it important to note here that mercy is for everyone; the loveable and unlovable alike. We are all sinners and fall ridiculously short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23); and if we consider that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), we know we have been gifted an abundance of mercy when we receive His gracious, sacrificial gift of salvation. Mercy assumes we’re going to sin and He loves us anyway; He supplies our needs anyway. Mercy doesn’t alleviate our pain or suffering, but does act like an ointment to our wounds. It’s not based on anything we do or don’t do. On that note, I think it’s equally important to understand that God doesn’t dole out mercy with reluctance, or weighing the pros and cons of doing so, or even anticipating some form of repayment (not that we could!). He has no ulterior motive. He simply loves to love and He does that by gifting us His mercy each and every day, starting first thing in the morning. Micah 7:18 tells us that “God delights to show mercy”. Delights! Can you picture His face? Do you get a sense of His heart?
Perhaps the best definition I’ve heard is “Mercy is God’s grace in action”.
Going back to the story of the Israelites for a minute, it’s important to remember that God didn’t just place His provisions in their laps. They actually had to go out and gather the manna. When they saw the abundance of manna, they were so excited; so excited that they gathered far more than they needed in hopes to save some for the next day. Do you remember what happened? It rotted. God provides what we need for this day and only for this day. I love how Beth Moore, in her Bible Study: A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place” points out that “our ratio of mercy matches our present need. When the time arises and the need escalates, so does the grace required for us to make it. God is always sufficient in perfect proportion to our need”. We always have what we need. Nothing more, nothing less for today. We cannot store up or use up God’s mercies. It’s impossible. And every day, we will learn to rely on Him to meet our needs.
This morning I thank the Lord for another day, another opportunity to see Him and to reflect His love to the world. I challenge you to do the same. I am pretty sure that if we can practice having a thankful heart for what we already have, we will be transformed from the inside out. This happens when we trade our agenda for His; when we trade our shame, regrets, fears, etc. for His mercy. What a way to begin each morning!