Redemption that is vast, far beyond what we can comprehend. That is the story of the Bible. That is the story of our lives. That is at the core of all that is meaningful in my life.
I have been studying mercy. I love this verse in Exodus, where God describes himself. Mercy is so much an intrinsic part of His character:
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Ex 34:6
Jake taught a super inspiring class on Wednesday on Old Testament narratives. He related how all of the narratives of the Bible revolve around one theme — redemption. From the time of Adam and Eve in the garden, through Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets, God has been reconciling man to himself, even though man has not deserved it. God has created a way for people to be His very own people, people He can lavish His love on. All through history, even though He has given to them immeasurably, people have rebelled and rejected Him. But the MOST AMAZING THING is that God continued to make a way for people to be close to his heart, in spite of the rebellion and rejection.
This is the story of my life. I started making a list of all of all the ways God has given to me. I have a wonderful way of serving Him here in Auburn. My ministry, my marriage, my friendships, my family, my personal growth — all of these are more than I could ask or imagine. I am so grateful. I am so thankful simply that I know Him.
I made a list of the ways I see God working lately — people he is drawing closer to Him through Bible studies, answered prayer in my kids’ lives, friends who are growing, people who have been baptized, relationships I am building, people who are moving into our ministry, excellent ways disciples are using their talents, activities we are having that fill our hearts with encouragement.
When I list all of these things, it is mind boggling to begin to realize the mercy I have been shown. I think of the sins I’ve committed, from my teenage years on. It is so much God’s mercy that I was allowed to find Him, instead of experiencing the consequences of these sins. It is so much His mercy that He put me in a great ministry to grow and flourish in. It is so much His mercy that I have great kids. It is so much His mercy that I am allowed to continue serving Him in spite of my mess-ups and sins.
I have been redeemed from a miserable, empty, painful way of life. I am still being redeemed. It is more epic than I can understand.
How can we take something like this for granted?
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4
I haven’t seen the movie “Gravity” yet, but my friend Lin saw it and it made her reflect on how our relationship with God is like gravity. We move away from Him, but just like when we jump and end up coming back down to the earth, God always calls us back to Him. Even if we get in a rocket that shoots into the atmosphere, when we run out of fuel, we come back down. We all like sheep have gone astray, but NO MATTER HOW FAR we have strayed, God can bring us close to Him.
That is mercy. That is redemption.
Jake ended his lesson talking about how we try to make the Old Testament narratives all about us, instead of being all about God. As we are grateful beyond measure for His redemption, may our lives be less about self, and always, always more about Him.
Here are a couple of verses of songs that help set my heart in this. The first is from “Empty” by Jeremy Camp, and second is a song I wrote to prepare my heart for worship.
Holy fire burn away
My desire for anything
That is not of you and is of me
I want more of you
And less of me
Let me worship You with my whole heart today
All of my mind, strength and soul, I pray
May the distractions leave my mind
All of the worries left behind
‘Til at last your peace I find
So ready, so ready, to worship you
I’m praying, I’m singing, I worship you
I’m praising, adoring, I worship you.
To You be all glory, I worship you.