The Prodigal Dissed

outcastI’ve been thinking a lot about mercy lately and how desperately I need it; how much I’ve come to rely on it. I know that when I humbly approach the Mercy Seat and allow my wretchedness to be exposed before the Creator of Heaven and Earth, I am welcomed, accepted, and loved with a love that is infinite, patient, and indulgent. It is a love that exists for us who may not have been disposed to receive it, those of us who continually struggle to be accepted in family, in the job place—in the world in general; those of us who cannot seem to “catch a break” and battle addiction in one form or another, those of us who wrestle with demons of every kind and cannot, even when presented with a way out, cannot or will not accept it because we believe we are un-savable; that our sins are too great; that we deserve the hell we live in.

The mercy I’ve not only come to know, but to adore with every fiber of my being is one where “words are important, but the gesture is explicit.”

The God of Mercy keeps showing up, keeps listening, keeps fighting for me. He meets me where I am. He speaks to me in a language that I understand. He doesn’t give up on me. Times when I have been unfaithful to Him, He has remained faithful to me. Times when it would be fitting to chastise me, condemn me, punish me; He, instead shows me grace and mercy—forgiveness.

At some point in my life, I came to believe God was a God of love and mercy, one of grace and forgiveness, but I never felt worthy of Him and struggled to accept the very things I craved and needed most in my life. The church I grew up in was one characterized as a “Fire and Brimstone” Baptist church. Judgement. Wrath. Hell. Punishment. I heard these words pounded out week after week in hopes that my guilt and shame would lead me to the Cross. Instead, it scared me. It actually scared me into salvation. And… it paralyzed me from approaching the Mercy Seat because I thought that if God really knew me, He would change His mind and pull a lever that opened a trap door in heaven’s floor sending me straight to hell.

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Two stories keep coming to mind and although the place, time, and characters differ, I keeping melding them together in my mind. The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and the story of Jesus Forgives an Adulterous Woman (John 8).

The story of the Prodigal Son is perhaps one of the most revered stories in all the Bible probably because we can related to one or both of the brothers in the story. You may remember that the younger brother asks his father for his inheritance so he can leave his responsibilities and pursue a life of fast and wild living . His crass insensitivity indicated that his father was worth more to him dead than alive. And though this must have grieved the father, he complied and gave his son his share of the inheritance. The son leaves, goes off to a far off place and lives an intoxicating life of sin while the older brother remains, toiling the land; fulfilling his responsibilities and his father’s every wish.

At this point of the story, we may find favor with the older brother, have sympathy for the father, and believe that whatever comes upon the younger brother, he probably deserves. We’re prone to the “eye for and eye” mentality.

But when the younger son, poor, broken, and humbled, crests the hill back to his father’s home to ask to become one of his servants, the father sees him and RUNS to him.

I have to pause here for a brief second to point out that the father sees the son when he is a long way off. The Father, after all these years, was still watching for His son’s return. He remained faithful. He didn’t give up hope.

The son tries to apologize and plead for a job as a servant, but the father won’t hear of it. Instead he sends for his best robe, calls for the fattened calf, and throws a celebration fit for a king. His son was home.

This father didn’t allow the son’s past to interfere with the present. This father did not reject his wayward son. This father celebrated his return and loved him just as he had loved him before. I am certain there were conversations, consequences even, but even in that, there was merciful acceptance.

(I’d love to write from the perspective of the older son, who struggled with forgiving his younger brother and developed a heart of bitterness toward his father, but this post is long already and I have many more words to say.)

We find comfort in this story because we have all be the wayward son in one regard or another and the picture of us returning to family loved—loved as we need, but don’t expect or necessarily deserve is nothing short of gracious mercy. We may not call it grace; we may not even call it mercy; but that is what we crave. Some of us have been fortunate enough to have received such grace from friends and family, while others have returned humbled and forever scared only to be rejected again.

That is not the heart of Christ.

And if it is not apparent yet, I will clearly state that mercy is the central theme of the gospel and we, as Christ-followers, play a vital, critical role in administering this saving medicine for the soul.

The other story that comes to mind is the one of the adulterous woman; the story where the Scribes and Pharisees had brought a woman caught in adulty (and had a reputation for such) before Jesus and asked him what they should do. They were tricksters, those Pharisees, because they knew the law of Moses like the back of their hand, which stated that anyone caught in adulty was to be stoned to death. They were hoping to catch Jesus breaking the law, but instead Jesus calmly said, “Whomever is without sin may cast the first stone.” One by one, the men left and when all had left, Jesus turned to the woman and asked, “Is there no one to condemn you?” she replied, “No, my Lord.” He then looked softly into her dark eyes and whispered, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Did this woman sin? Yes. Did this woman deserve to be stoned to death? According to the law, yes. Although the Bible doesn’t disclose how the woman was caught in the act, we can assume that because of her reputation, these Pharisees had been watching and waiting for her to slip up, to sin again. Some people in our lives do the same thing; they wait to pounce, to condemn, to say, “I knew you’d mess up.”
But on the other hand, we have been in a similar position as this woman, as the prodigal son, where we know we deserve condemnation, punishment and hope against hope for mercy.

What if the father had rejected the son? What if Jesus had encouraged the Pharisees to stone the adulterous woman? What if God withheld His mercy? The prodigal dissed… I weep, literally weep when I consider what I would lose—a love so great, a mercy so rich, a saving grace. It’s my everything. It’s my all.

Christ hears our heart’s plea for mercy and though our words may be choked by our tears and may fail to come to life as we approach his Mercy Seat, He tells us that a repentant heart (an explicit gesture) is all that is required. As Christ-followers let’s not ask more of others than Christ asks of us.

You Plus Me Equals Us

shredded wheatPicture a handful of strong, determined and loyal men, both young and old who show up to the dusty fields before sunrise, while it is still dark, ready and willing to work. Their job is a long and tiresome one, often working from sun up to sun down. The heat and strain on their backs becomes too much by midday–each and every day– as they plant, nurture, and harvest wheat, but they don’t complain; they keep working “as if unto the Lord”. Years of engaging toilsome work publicizes itself for all to see in the deeply etched lines of their faces, which seemed stained with grit and grime. They wear these lines proudly for they speak of their character and the One for whom they work. They find purpose in their work and confidants in the men they labor shoulder to shoulder with day in and day out. They considered one another family.

Early one morning just as the sun had made its way over the horizon and the birds could be heard tweeting their melodies of glee, their Boss, a loyal, sacrificial man of insurmountable integrity Whom is well respected and highly esteemed in the community, meets them at the fields. This was part of His daily routine for He genuinely cared for His workers and always made Himself available. He balanced His position of Boss and Friend seamlessly and His workers respect Him for His hard, honest direction in both business and matters of the heart. This day, He heaves the bulky burlap bags of seeds from His rig, breaking a sweat Himself, as His men prepare to plant the acres of just fertilized and prepared fields. His men, have grown old with Him, learned the ropes by watching, and imitating both His methods and principals through their years under His care. They knew what needed to be done, so without a word, the Boss tips His hat, gives a quick nod and with a twinkle in His smiling eyes, He turns to leave. He trusts His workers. They have proven themselves reliable, valuable and desiring the best. They know the land and the job so well, they could have written the manual themselves!

Diligently, day after day, the workers sow the seeds and survey the land as they look for new growth and prepare for the harvest season.  They work as if the field belongs to them, doing whatever it takes because they genuinely desire to grow a successful crop and to please their Boss. Weeks pass, when one day the workers notice that among the healthy, thriving wheat stalks, thistles have taken root. In their years of experience, they haven’t encountered such an enormous outbreak. The men look questioningly at one another and with each acre they assess, their growing concern quickly turns to panic.  They sprint back to their Boss, breathlessly panting, “Weren’t the seeds You gave us to plant good? Were they not stored in the cool dark cellar and kept safe?” As they breathed the words to life, they knew the answer. They didn’t have to question their Boss’ methods, but they could not explain what else might have contributed to the heavily interspersed weeds among their prized wheat; the very thing that could destroy it.

Their Boss smiled ruefully, shaking His head, His eyes dropping to where He watched the dust float heavenward with each scuff of His boot along the dry ground. Slowly, His teary eyes met theirs and with such a tenderness in His voice, He whispered, “Boys, I knew this day was coming; a day when our competition would sneak in and plant weeds in My fields in hopes to choke out My healthy stalks”. The men, eager to do whatever needed to be done, replied with raised voices, “Well, we’ll show him, we’ll spend as long as it takes to pull up the weeds. We will restore Your plan. We will restore what is damaged and make it better than new”. Their Boss looks at them again, kindness in His eyes as He walks toward them and speaks once more, “No, my boys. Thank you for your willingness to act justly on My behalf. I appreciate the heart in which you mean to help, but something you might not have considered is if you were to pull up the weeds, you may accidently uproot the wheat as well. Let’s do this: let them be; let the weeds grow alongside the wheat until they reach maturity, until the time of harvest, and then you may pull the weeds and burn them”. The men, confused, questioned Him, “But Boss, are You not worried that the weeds will ruin the wheat? The weeds, the bad, the less desirable will surely weaken or destroy the wheat, the good, the desired–the very thing we have worked so hard to attain”. Their Boss let out a soft “hmmm”, dropped His head and slowly walked back to His quarters.

Can you imagine the talk that ensued once their Boss was out of ear shot?
Do you think they respected His orders, or do you think some of them felt they knew better and acted on their Boss’s behalf?
What do you think the end results would have been?
Who do we identify with in this parable?
(Obviously, I’ve taken some liberties in expanding the story found in Matthew 13:24-29 with the hope that we might picture it all the more clearly and identify with it on a more personal level).

To paint with more detailed brush stokes, this story represents non-Christians (weeds) living among Christians (wheat) and how those with good intentions often believe the best thing to do is to separate the two (us and them). The workers in this story identified with the wheat, as many of us, as Christ-followers, do. Their initial thought was to pull up the weeds, but Jen Hatmaker, in her insightful (and seriously life-changing) book, “Interrupted” points out that “we are qualified to administer mercy, not judgment”. Think about that for a moment. Let that fact sink in. Stings a little, doesn’t it? For many of us, we have looked at the world as black and white, good or bad, for God or against God. We play judge and jury.

Friends, we will encounter more than our fair share of weeds; people that make us uncomfortable because they think, behave, worship, vote, live differently, and/or have a different sexual orientation than we do. (think homeless guy on the corner, those living in poverty in this country as well as others, the lesbian couple in the booth at the restaurant you’re dining at, boisterous Liberal, Republican or Democrat with opposing views, pro-choice/pro-life rallies, alternative music, drinking, drugs…honestly, could I hit anymore hot buttons? You get the point). To be honest, I’ve always identified with the wheat, but as I’ve grown in both age and faith, I find that my heart longs to draw closer to the weeds. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want to abandon my faith. On the contrary, I want to embrace what it has always been about, the part I have misunderstood, the part my legalistic background has declared bad and sinful and therefore, we must flee from. Jen Hatmaker makes a bold statement when she writes, “The correct character to identify with here is the weed which was shown mercy, not the Savior capable of discerning the human heart”. #convicted

To identify with the “least of these” or the “oppressed” or whatever we choose to label others outside ourselves is so counter-cultural, so uncomfortable, and if we’re honest, it come at a high cost; the cost of being ridiculed or misunderstood. I know this personally as fact! And we cannot make the outcome of whatever we put into motion with others hinge on whether or not it takes root on an eternal level. That’s not our job. Our job is to DO something. “Doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission” and we are held accountable for our actions/inactions. This does require a willing brokenness, a willingness to embrace certain frustration, and confess moments of judgment that seep in from time to time in addition to a fullness of joy we have never really experienced before. I believe becoming less in stuff and stature and living, for lack of a better phrase, (the overused and highly underlived word) on mission is where we find fulfillment, genuine liberty. I can’t help but to think of John 3:30, which echoes the constant prayer of my heart, “I must decrease, so that He may increase”.

What it all boils down to is this: it’s you and me, weeds and wheat, living together. Let’s really live intentionally together. It’s not our job to separate ourselves or even cast judgment on those different from us. That’s God’s job. Our job is to be purposeful, intentional in showing Christ’s love to all people. I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus implied, scratch that, commanded when He said, “Go” and “Do”. Faith is not meant to bless the blessed. It’s intended to bless the marginalized.

Nostalgic or Transfomative; Our Stories Are Powerful

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Our stories are nostalgic at their least, transformative at their best.

Some moments spent over coffee have been filled with joy, celebration, and school-girl giggles while others have been burdensome and even life-changing, and every emotion and situation in between. Coffee (and sometimes wine and sometimes tequila, but mostly coffee) is the perfect pairing to share life and stories between friends.

It is forever imbedded in my mind the afternoon I sat across from my oldest daughter at our local coffee shop, mesmerized by my own reflection in her dark chocolate brown eyes. I had seen glimpses of myself in her throughout her entire childhood, but as she grew, the reflection grew stronger and with each misstep she took I feared her future would fall into pace with my past. I knew this well-trodden path, full of pitfalls, detours, and hairpin turns. I knew it better than she did; I had the scars to prove it, though barely noticeable after all these years and rarely, if ever, talked about, but never, never forgotten. I braced myself, trying to steady the beating of my nervous heart as I was about to dive into a conversation I wasn’t sure I was ever going to have with her; a conversation where shame and regret still loiter.

Like many parents, I’ve wondered how much of my past to share with my girls and have had many conversations (over coffee) with my fellow mommas about this very issue. I cannot even begin to tell you how heartbroken I have been to hear time and time again how every one of those mommas said they would never share their past with their children. I’ve remained quiet, feeling isolated in my opposing thoughts; thoughts of the potentially missed opportunities to connect on the deepest, heart-to-heart, level with our children. I had read an article when my oldest was just a wee girl, which said something to the effect of “What happened in the past determines what we take out of our daily lives” and I had added to this idea that our past also affects what we put into others. I have patterned portions of my parenting style with this in mind.

Sitting across from Abigail, with coffee in hand, I flashed back to the first moments when her precious 8 pound, 4-ounce body was place in my arms for the first time. Running my fingertips along her plump cheeks and kissing her head over and over again, I remember whispering countless promises to her; promises to love her the best I could, promises to show her her value, promises to guide her in Truth and wisdom, promises to be vulnerable and honest with her even when it was uncomfortable, even when it might paint me in a bad light, even if it meant she might use it against me or worse yet, follow in my footsteps. I wanted her to know I was not perfect and I didn’t have all the answers, but would give her all that I am and all that I have. A tall order for this then 22-year-old who, in hindsight, perhaps bit off more than she could chew.

When I say I might have bit off more than I could chew, I do not mean to imply that I ever wavered in keeping a single one of those promises! On the contrary! However, some of those promises came with a searing pain and bottomless tears that I could not have imagined all those years ago in our hospital room. I entered into parenting knowing that my past, my stories; my personal collection of lessons learned held immeasurable value for my girls. Our parenting is filtered through these lessons whether we share our stories with our children or not.

I was born a story teller. It’s part of my DNA and my Daddy nurtured and encouraged this part of who I am throughout my entire life  until our last conversation this side of heaven (this is why I write today); but my stories are nostalgic at their least, transformative at their best. I, personally, stand in a long line of God’s redemptive acts through His people. We are a redeemed, forgiven, and loved people and recipients of God’s abundant grace. We are a privileged body, and a “royal priesthood”. I pause here for a moment…. and find myself so entirely overwhelmed with this beautiful, life-giving truth and shudder to think if my family’s legacy was not shared through stories, the joyful and the painful, I very well might have taken for granted these precious gifts and very well might have missed the fact that my identity is completely tied to the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  Our past not only tells us who we are, it tells us who we are not.

So, I clear my throat and wipe the tears, which are already stinging the corner of my eyes and begin to paint the detailed strokes of who I once was, the mistakes I made at 19, her same age, and the forever consequences I now carry with me for the rest of my life. I share the pain, the shame, the regret, and I share how I coped, Who I learned to trust and rely on, and how it was in that single experience that my life was forever altered and because of those scares and the One Who born them for me, I live in freedom. I know my story pierced her heart and caused her to see me through a different lens.

Later, when I asked her if I had lost credibility with her, she let out a soft laugh and through a wistful smile said, “No, it actually gave you credibility. I respected you more. I knew I could talk to you about anything and you’d get it; I mean really get it”. Those seemingly taboo channels had been cleared, opening to an endless dialogue about hard things. I know she isn’t just hearing the words and advice I give her, I know she’s really listening, really taking it in. Her choices will still be her choices, of course. I cannot protect her from everything; but really, I don’t want to. I want her to have her own stories to learn and grow from. And when she does, she’ll know I’m right here with open arms and a heart that genuinely understands.

Our kids will remember our stories long after our advice is forgotten, and I hope they’ll learn from those stories. In time, they will have their own stories to add to our heritage and to pass along to another generation. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll share them over a cup of coffee!


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My Testimony

 

From Where I Stand

DSC_0755I’ll never forget those dark eyes, never. If I close my eyes now, 17 years later, I can still see them. I can still see the spacing of his lashes and prominent pupils due to the shadowy-dim light. His girth suffocated me as my face was pushed into the all-weather carpet, burning its roughness onto the left side of my face. Without a thought of possible repercussion, I mustered all I had within me and let out a blood-curdling scream for help, except my body betrayed me and no sound came from my lips. I felt my vocal cords constrict, and my mouth open, but no sound escaped. I tried again, telling myself that it was my fear choking me and that if I could just relax, then my voice would work. It didn’t. The silence was deafening; literally piercing my ears. Silence from him. Silence from me. And still, sometimes, the quiet can become too much for me. I remember thinking that this six-foot-four, 275-pound African-American man would give up after trying for what seemed an eternity to destroy me, but he didn’t. My thoughts quickly changed to wishing he would just hurry. I have no comprehension to this day how long the physical attack lasted. I only know I allowed the emotional portion to affect me a good share of the years since.

I felt like a rag doll; limp, lifeless and hopeless when I was finally left all alone in the dark. I didn’t cry—not right away. I picked myself up, cleaned up the best I could, and then I cried. And cried. And still to this day, I cry.

I cry for me. I cry for him. What has to happen in a person’s life to bring them to such a place to commit such violence without regard for another human being?

Weaving in and out of various parts of the story in an attempt to focus on where I am standing now, this week’s theme, I skip ahead nine months to share that with my husband of now 23 years by my side, I gave birth to a beautiful reminder of God’s Sovereignty, a bi-racial baby girl that resulted from that traumatic night; and a few years later found myself part of Pacific Northwest’s Speakers Bureau for Crisis Pregnancy Centers, focusing on both educating the public and fundraising. (I am incredibly, incredibly passionate about the issue of pro-life! Incredibly!).

At one such speaking engagement at Beasley Coliseum at WSU, I was teamed up with an African-American man. We had never met before and to be honest, I do not remember what he even spoke about. However, after the event was over, he approached me, pulling me aside, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, he said, “I want to ask you for forgiveness for my “brother”. Will you forgive him?” I was completely caught off guard and the strength that I had been mustering up all day betrayed me and I fell at his knees and sobbed like the little girl I so desperately had been trying to hide for a very long time.

I don’t remember my co-speaker’s name, but I have never, never forgotten his words. I have pondered them in every possible way; I’ve turned them over, upside down and back again. I’ve mulled them over, looked for a hidden agenda, trying to believe there was something there I wasn’t seeing. Friends, there wasn’t. His words, however, were not his own.  He was merely the messenger because they were the words of Christ, “Forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

17 years later, I, too, stand too as a messenger. Over and over again, I find myself standing in the expanding space between injustice and forgiveness, loving the unlovable, forgiving those who have wronged; those who have crudely dismissed the beauty and value of one’s life and forever altering others in seemingly unforgivable ways. Standing in this place of Hope happened to me. I wish I could say I have this amazingly loving heart and I sought out ways to show love to the unlovable, but I didn’t.

Somehow in the midst of my seething hatred, wishing ill-will of my attacker so much so that I have literally made myself physically sick and praying for vengeance, God filled me with compassion, broke my heart for what breaks His and allowed me to surrender all those warranted thoughts to Him and rely on His strength and leading in my life. I trust—I absolutely have to—that God will deal with each injustice in a far better way than I ever could. Injustice is something I cannot comprehend no matter how hard I stretch my imagination or try to put myself in an offender’s shoes. It’s ugly and it robs us of our security, dignity, and innocence while often jostling our faith in both humanity and God. Turning a blind eye to injustice is an injustice in itself!

I refuse to turn a blind eye to it—I run toward it now. I write to prisoners, through the Prisoners for Christ organization, study the Bible alongside them, write notes of encouragement, direction and prayers over them. When I mail my letters, it is only the beginning because I vow to continue to pray over each prisoner. I have no idea if the words I write are meaningful to them or are life-changing, but I do know I am showing them Jesus the best way I know how. I stand with my arms outstretched toward heaven in humble thanksgiving for the forgiveness that I have been graced with and desire with all my heart to share that freedom with those held captive (physically and emotionally) by their own unforgiveness and sin. I stand as messenger.

It’s a New Day; It’s A New Dawn

DSC_0312I 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!