Sunday, March 27, 2011

Something I Thought of in Church Today: Grace and Compassion

My church has a tradition of leaving part of the worship "open" or "unprogrammed" in the group's jargon, meaning that it starts out as a time of silence and then if anyone feels prompted by God's Spirit to say something, she (or he) is supposed to stand and, um, say it.

Today, that happened to me, or at least I think so.  I mean, I definitely talked, and I think it was with God's leading.  I was prompted by feeling rather discouraged over how things have been going (as in badly) for almost everyone I'm close to.  The Lord used that discouragement (I think) to remind me of an amazing sentence from the book of Isaiah.  Anyway, this is what I said (modified slightly for this format):

There was a point in my life where I had trouble appreciating God's grace and mercy.  I mean, I understood, intellectually, how they were important, and how they fit in the Gospel.  But I didn't really "get" it.  Now I've reached the point where I don't have any trouble understanding emotionally, experientially, how important grace and compassion are.

Right now, almost everyone who is really important to me is in a tough phase, or worse, is in a permenant trajectory that is, well, not good.  This weekend, I had the darkly comedic experience of actually being glad for a bad thing because it wasn't a worse thing.

But that's not my point in speaking.

My point is to share with you something that is true.  In Isaiah 30:18 we're told: "The Lord longs to be gracious to you.  He rises to show you compassion".

For a long time, I thought that the Lord's grace and compassion were essentially reactive, or compensatory - that our lameness forces him to react with grace and compassion.  What I've come to realize instead is that God's grace and mercy are in fact, as the verse says, his first choice.  When we, when I arrive at the point where we must rely on his mercy and compassion it's a good thing, it's not a problem.  Rather, needing to rely on God's grace and compassion have been his plan, his purpose for me, for us, from the beginning.

So Friends, please remember that this is true: "The Lord longs to be gracious to you.  He rises to show you compassion".
I don't know if I'm going to return to blogging - so my three remaining blog fans should temper their expectations