From time to time, Writing From the Wall invites Christian writers to share with our readers what is on their heart, concepts God might be impressing on them, and lessons they have learned along the Christian way. Today, Fred Simpson has consented to share with us a devotional he wrote and will deliver to a group he will be attending soon. I hope you enjoy what Fred has agreed to share here, and that you will come back again to read other wonderful essays and devotions by some of our area’s most thoughtful writers.
Grace, Peace, Mercy by Fred Simpson.
I think all of us at times have had difficulties understanding Biblical principles over the years; things that God sticks in our mind, sometimes running in the background, sometimes running on the surface. The last three years, for me, it was all about Grace, Patience, and Mercy. Ultimately, I know these are “God” things, far beyond our little mind’s ability to fully comprehend. However, for three years these things were often on my mind. Very humbling thing I found, constantly turning these over, and over, trying to look at them from a different perspective–aren’t they all the same, how are they different? On and on it went.
An interesting book I read this summer summarized all of my frustrations. It was “James Madison and the Making of America” and in it Madison, trying to summarized his frustration with the process of creating our Constitutional republic, says how much he lamented “having to use something as imperfect as a human language to work with”.
Often times I would find myself anguishing with God…. “Lord, you are too much for me!”, or “Lord, I don’t understand!” So, with all this in mind, my learning process went something along these lines.
Huge! Most convicting and most humbling thing for all of us; to know yourself, to know all the good, the bad, and the ugly; to know just how patient God is with you. Too know how impatient you can be with other brothers and sisters in Christ, with your wife, your husband, our children, our co-workers. Sometimes you just hang your head in shame and you cry out, uncle… “Lord help me!” As a father and husband I can recall times when I have abused my authority, and I simply would blow my stack. Then comes God and his gentle hand, reminding of how constant his patience is for me, and rightly I am convicted to say, “Lord I don’t want to be that person ever again.” So as a believer, at times I am thinking, Okay, Lord… it’s all about being patient.
Is it forgiveness, is it patience, is it grace, is it all three? Mercy could simply be wiping the slate clean, (forgiving). You can act mercifully towards another, seeing mistakes being made, handling, teaching delicately as to not offend, and trying to help in a productive manner, (displaying Grace, as well as patience).
The “Plank in the Eye”, is one of the most important lessons for us. From it you can have full assurance that others can see all of your frailties, just as clearly as you can see theirs. And from this lesson we learn that we alone are not the sole recipient of Gods rich Mercy. He expects us to lavish that same mercy, that same Grace, and the same Patience on other sinners just like us.
The mere sound of the word sets my soul at peace. Ahhhhh, unmerited Grace. Something you just kind of drink in. As believers we depend on it more than the air we breathe. Of the three, Grace is clearly the hardest to wrap these little minds of ours around. Given a million years, we might just begin to scratch the surface.
For me the picture of Grace that comes to me is from a grandmotherly figure in my life. I lost both my grandmothers at an age too young to remember, but a neighbor of ours, Mrs. Sterling, became the face of a grandmother for me. Mrs. Sterling had one of those faces that emanated Grace and although she was wealthy, you knew it wasn’t just that she was poised with a tremendous sense of social grace. She just beamed with the love of Christ. Whenever I had the chance to see her, she just couldn’t wait to hear from me, to look at me, and was always thrilled to have me in her presence. As a father, and uncle, and with the added blessing of so many incredible children in my life, I now understand that look she so often times had on her face. Although she was fully engaged with me, she was also looking right through me; as if she was also looking at that little three-year-old boy that would steal from her cookie jar.
Last fall this all started coming together for me, and from an unlikely source. We were at a family reunion and a friend of mine started talking about the Penn State ordeal. Referring to Sandusky, he said, “Do you ever notice that a mother could never do such a thing?” Struck with the general truthfulness of the statement, I started to reflect on my own life experiences with the important mothers in my life. Then, last Mother’s Day, all the pieces started to come together. Presently, as a father looking back on my own childhood and having such a wonderful and loving mother, I have developed a richer sense of all that my mother was too me, (then and now). Also, watching my own wife grow as a woman, mother, and Christian–I remember watching Valerie working in the Garden once. I was watching out the kitchen window. She was pregnant with our first daughter, Emma, and in the middle of the sweltering heat I watched as she placed her hand on her stomach, and as she just smiled. That connection, that love of a mother was all over her face. She just glowed with it! That connection has only grown over the years.
With the added years and experiences from all those wonderful grandmothers in my life, I have developed a “fuller” and more complete picture of all that motherhood is. It’s been said, “That all humanity lines up behind a pregnant woman,” and rightfully so. It’s that bond a mother has with her children, as well as all children. It is the absolute and unconditional love, as well as all the personal sacrifices (all second nature to a mother). It is the best part of humanity. Others can know and experience much of Christ’s unconditional love, but to a mother it is innate. Simply put, the love of a mother is the closet and purest form of the Love of Christ that we have here on earth.
Grace, Mercy, Patience, and forgiveness, are they overlapping? Are they the same thing with different sides? Probably. Can a human language adequately describe them? Not a chance. However, the greater point, and what is intended for us not to miss, and where this faith of ours always, always comes back to is Gods unconditional love for us. No condition whatsoever, nothing you could ever do, could separate you from His love.
Grace, Patience, Mercy, and forgiveness, are all outward expressions of God’s unconditional love, found through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.