Monday, May 28, 2012

A Breakup with Mercy & the Soli Deo Gloria Party

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Will you receive His mercy?
"Believe that God delights in mercy, delights to give grace where it cannot be deserved, delights to forgive when there is no reason for forgiveness but His own goodness."~ Charles Spurgeon
It's an amazing feeling -- to be forgiven when forgiveness is undeserved.  And I have the privilege of asking and receiving forgiveness from Jesus every single day of my life.  In turn, He asks me to surrender my anger, confusion, and hurt towards others so that I might, too, experience part of His delight in this process of forgiving an offender.

It sounds like a perfect process, but somehow along the way, mercy and I broke up.  No longer do I delight in being merciful.  No, see, I want justice.  I want my self-righteous indignation.  I want my feelings to be validated.  Want mercy from me?  Come groveling.

Harsh, right?  Most people (aside from my husband and my children) don't get the whole "come groveling" vibe from me.  That's because I am non-confrontational.  And, because after someone apologizes, I basically turn into a pile of mush.  Forgiveness does flow, but what happens when someone doesn't apologize?  Or if they commit the same offense over and over and over again?  Can I learn to love mercy even in those circumstances?

I remember when my little girls were 2 and 3 and they offended each other quite often by stealing toys, shoving each other out of the way, and occasionally biting when demands went ignored.  After emotions were soothed and apologies made, the offended usually responded with an "It's okay!" and the two went off again, happy playmates, at least for awhile.  The whole process repeated itself a myriad of times throughout the day, but forgiveness always followed the fight.

Will you extend His mercy to others?

I don't remember how well I played with others when I was a child, but I am assuming it went somewhat similarly to how it played out with my own children.  This, then, drives me to this question:
When did I break up with mercy?
When did I choose a hard heart over forgiveness?  When did I begin choosing to remain prideful instead of surrendering my baggage?  When did I start weighing the offenses of another as heavier than my own? When did I begin to shift from delighting in mercy to delighting in my own indignation?

True, things in my life have happened where I was justified in being angry, but so what?  If I hold onto this anger and choose not to give mercy, it only destroys my very own heart further.  The break-up with mercy has a consequence more severe than anything that anyone else could ever do to me.  It has the power to kill the life that lives in my heart.  A mercy-less heart is one covered in black, dripping with a sticky tar that can only be washed off by the blood of Jesus.
Pay attention, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I, the LORD made you,
and I will not forget you.
I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like a morning mist.
O, return to me,
for I have paid the price to set you free.
Isaiah 44: 21-22

Harboring anger, withholding mercy, making quick judgements -- all sins.  All sins that He has assured me are swept away like a cloud.  What if I transformed these heavy offenses against me into something that looks like a morning mist?  As God sweeps away my selfish pride is, I, too, can scatter the offenses held in my heart like the morning mist.  Perhaps I can join hands with mercy again, even growing to love her, as I did as a child.
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you --
to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8
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41 comments :

  1. I wrote about forgiveness once. I just don't get how children understand easily what is so foreign to me.

    Ohhhh, you are sorry, well, I love you. Let's get on with it!

    Not me, forget about breaking up. Mercy and I never even dated.

    Good push to keep working on that relationship though.

    Good write, JF.

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  2. Oh boy. Now we all need to think how heavily we're dating mercy. I want to be in a committed relationship, not an off-and-on when I'm-in-the-mood for it. Wanting justice seems to come more naturally to us, but I want to keep growing in Christ enough where grace comes just as naturally. Thanks, Jen, for making me think about this.

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    1. I know -- that justice thing is so hard. But then, I have to remember that He is the ultimate authority on justice and somehow He tempers it so well with mercy. It's a way that I just cannot even fathom.

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  3. You mention what about someone who doesn't seek forgiveness for hurt, for wrong. I think that is the hardest one - because there is blessing in the seeking and the giving. It feels like there is a gift, a forgiveness gift, ready to be given only no one ever shows up to get it. I think it is like that with God. He has the gift of forgiveness but it doesn't do me any good until I ask for forgiveness. When I ask, - it is simply beautiful! There's a difference between someone continually saying, "sorry" - and trying - and someone who never says "sorry." One is more easily forgiven - and that is the one talked about most often in scripture.

    Thanks for tackling a tough topic!

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  4. Jen, this is beautifully honest. I appreciate what you said so much. I think we all struggle with this at times. Learning to forgive like a child is more difficult than learning to hold a grudge like an adult. In the Spirit, all things are possible!

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  5. Oh Jen...how I have known this...and what I came to understand for me...I did not know God as a merciful God...so I showed no mercy to myself...therefore no mercy to anyone else. It all came back to love others as I have loved you...until He untwisted my view of Him...I was stuck with a twisted view toward others. Thanks for sharing this and encouraging all to find a higher place to walk with Him...blessings to you~

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    1. Ells, I think you bring up such an important point. It is hard for us to give mercy if we don't accept it from God or others for ourselves.

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  6. I'm new! I really enjoyed your blog on mercy. Look forward to reading more blogs. God bless you. :)

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  7. Amen, Jen. Unforgiveness puts us in our own prisons -- especially since so much of the time the people who offend us either don't care or are unaware we're offended. I love that Scripture from Micah. Walk humbly ... when you think about it, to NOT forgive means we carry so much pride that we think we're good enough to hold something over another. But we're really all the same. Thank you, friend.

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    1. I so agree. And we all know that I have struggled with that kind of pride. Oh, less of me, more of You, God!!

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  8. Wonderful! I had to tell myself it's a slap in the face to the one who paid for our sins Not to forgive myself. He paid such a heavy price for it!!! You know what? I'd be interested in one of your small groups if you can squeeze me in.

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    1. I have just the perfect place for you!

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  9. What a challenging post. I seem to be running into forgiveness everywhere lately, but this is an aspect of it I hadn't thought of.

    Also, I'm new, so I thought I'd say hi! Thanks for hosting!
    Mary Beth
    newlifesteward.com

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  10. Oh Jen, this is so good, so convicting. Just during the last couple of days I have been struggling with this very thing in a situation on my learning team at school. This giant chunk of my heart has been screaming for justice, pulsing with indignation, but there is a soft, resonant Voice urging me toward mercy. I have DONE the right thing, but I can't say my internal thoughts and emotions have caught up with what I know was the right thing to do. Pride keeps popping up--it tastes awful! Anyway, your post today was right on time to help me continue in the right direction. Thank you!!

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    1. Shaunie -- such a good point! Sometimes we do the right thing outwardly, but we still end up being eaten alive by the festering emotions that are not satisfied with the results or our actions.

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  11. Good word, Jen. We, in our humanity, think we deserve apologies and even groveling if the offense is of a certain caliber. Truth is, we deserve to pay the penalty for our sins. I thank God for Jesus and that we don't get what we deserve. We get His unconditional love.

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  12. Hi Jen - great post! So true! We have to look at the condition of our own hearts and mercy is hard when the person repeats and repeats the offense. Such a great encouragement to let it go and let God and preserve our hearts.
    God bless
    Tracy

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  13. I have strong tendencies toward self righteousness myself. Have you ever read Henri Nouwen's book, "The Prodigal Son?"

    I loved Amy's comment ... we have much to learn from children.

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  14. A fantastic post...so wonderfully convicting...just what we all need to hear. :)

    I just found your blog and am glad I did. I have it bookmarked and hope to visit again! Have a lovely week!

    Warmly,
    Katy

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  15. I love your analogy of breaking up with mercy. I hadn't looked at it that way before. It's one of the things I love about visiting your blog.

    One of the very many aspects of Christianity I adore is the mercy and forgiveness available to me just for the asking.

    Why we hang onto anger and indignation when we can enjoy the refreshing wash of that mercy and forgiveness is beyond me. I know it's something I have to work on every single day.

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  16. That's a daily battle for me. I have to remind myself over and over that I've been forgiven for so much more. Great post!
    I so wish I could join you at the retreat but my sisters getting married:)
    www.toshowthemjesus.com

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  17. I think mercy breakups is something we all need to guard against. Especially if the same person offends us repeatedly. My joy is depleted when I withhold mercy. That's a big reminder for me to check myself.

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  18. These verses were in my own morning devotion, too.
    "somehow along the way, mercy and I broke up. "
    But God never puts away His mercy, at least not unless we turn our face from His unrelenting gaze. As I bathe in His grace, I must also extend it as He does--freely and even to those who seem to me least worthy.

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  19. Such a life long journey, this walking in forgiveness and extending it...Christa Wells has a beautiful song about forgiving ourselves and others: "Weightless." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgdvZ0kIJw

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  20. What a great story!!! I have never really thought about/compared how quick I was to forgive as a child to now, but you are right, the difference is not something to be proud of!!!

    thanks for the reminder! wonderful post!!!

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  21. When did I break up with mercy? what a unique and enticing way to think about this. I just love how you write, Jen.

    I see quite a few new linkies today so will try to visit them today.

    Love the photo too. Are you making these? they add a lot to the post.

    Again thanks for a thought provoking question to ponder today.

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    1. Jean -- I've just started making them on photo bucket. It's kind of addicting!

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  22. I recently did a study of James where the focus was how mercy triumphs over judgment. What a different world it would be if we all extended mercy and reserved judgment! It's so hard though -- pride is such a stinker.

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  23. Powerful word, my friend! They just talked about mercy at church Sunday, and that word keeps dancing around my hear. I think God is speaking straight to me through His willing and obedient servants. Thank you.

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  24. Well, that was convicting. I'm low on the mercy, high on compassion and we need to find a happy middle. Love your heart Jen, every time I read it.

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  25. Thanks, Jen -- I need this today! Praise God for His mercy, washing away our pride and hardness of heart. Only His shed blood can cleanse us from this stain.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  26. Jennifer--this/these verses...I'm going to keep chewing on them. Your honesty blesses me and our Father. Thank you for sharing and keeping it real.

    love.

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  27. Just read this on facebook today: "Being around unmerciful men is like being in hell."

    Thought it was strong when I read it, but now, with your post, I'm wondering if God's trying to get my attention . . . ?

    Blessed to be challenged here tonight. thank you.

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  28. Mercy will find you - Not to worry!

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  29. Jen, These are important questions to ask. "When did I break up with mercy?" At first blush, I might have said, "What? I haven't." But having read your post and thought about it, I have. I struggle with pride, just like you've so eloquently written about here. You reveal much of my own heart with your writing. Thank you :)

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  30. I love the phrase "breaking up with mercy" ...how aptly it describes what happens when I don't willingly extend it where needed. And now, I wonder what else I may need to make up with, the pieces in my relationship with God I've severed.

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  31. love how you write and express such important truths...learning to receive more of His mercy so that I can learn to give it...always first from Him...slowly ...blessings, Jen :)

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  32. Yes, to let Him come in a renew our hearts, letting our hard hearts be surrendered and swept away, like morning mist! Love your truth shared here and the verses that I tuck away now. Grateful, Jennifer

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