Standing on my Meemee’s front porch, my older cousin and I would intertwine hands and squeeze with all our might until one cried, “MERCY!!!!” I usually–scratch that, always–filled that role.
As a young girl, the word mercy held little meaning in my life. It was a game, a part of Uncle Jesse’s endearing catch phrase. Nothing more. Just a word.
As I grew older and attended church with family and friends, the word began to adopt more meaning. Mercy comes from God. We do nothing to earn it. In fact, we do everything to deserve the opposite, but on behalf of His infinite love, He spares us from the death and destruction we’ve merited.
Now, that’s a pretty good definition, yet the more I consider the word and its impact in my life, the more I realize what I’ve been missing.
Throughout my life, and especially my Christian walk, I look back and see all I’ve done to deserve eternal separation from the Almighty. I find myself bringing negativity and condemnation into my heart for things I did days, months and years ago. That is, until I remember the beautiful gift I received nearly ten years ago when Christ entered my life.
Jesus brought to me the new wonders of grace, mercy and unconditional love. For so long, I accepted these beautiful gifts, drinking them in with endless thirst. They sat within me for quite some time before I felt the tug to share them. This moment brought forth revelation: mercy is from God, yay, that’s great, but He gives us this gift so that we may give it back.
Forgiveness isn’t a gift we give freely or easily. To forgive is painful; it takes surrendering our pride and forfeiting hope for the apologies we feel others owe us. Yet what I find even more difficult is showing that mercy to myself.
At times I overwhelm myself with the shame and guilt my sins have caused me, discrediting the forgiveness Jesus gave me so long ago and continues to give daily. Holding onto these feelings of condemnation does nothing but harm and harden our hearts to the power of God’s love and mercy. Guilt is just one of Satan’s many ways to distract our hearts from the glory and hope that rest in God’s open arms.
No sin in this world creates a gap too wide for Christ to bridge. He can, and He will, find you and heal you in any and every situation in life. He doesn’t require you to clean up your life before you can find Him. He meets each and every one of us exactly where we are, right in the middle of our sinful, shameful lives. And with Him He brings a light so bright no amount of darkness and sin can remain.
This is the mercy made available through Jesus Christ. It is free; we can do nothing to earn it aside from putting all trust in Him. If He, sinless and perfect, can shine His wondrous mercy on each of us, then we are more than capable of showing that same mercy to ourselves and to others.