“What if we know that forgiveness and mercy are what heal and restore and define us, that they actually are the fragrance that the rose leaves on the heel that crushes it? So why today is it absolutely all I can do to extend mercy to myself for wanting to nip an annoying relative’s heel like a river rat?” Anne Lamott*
Love. Grace. Forgiveness. Mercy. Why are these so difficult for us to embrace?
For me, challenges to my faith sometimes cause me to stumble off my intended path. Other times, simple circumstances take my attention and focus away from our mission of restoration which comes from our Father through the words of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:16-20)
Life is difficult. We all know it. We all experience betrayal, tragedy, loss.
Yet some of us seem to be more adept at finding peace and contentment in all situations than others. I’ve seen too many get stuck in anger, resentment and hypocritical righteousness, shutting the door on the peace Christ enables them to have. (Philippians 4:11-13)
I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. (John 16:33)
What were “these things” Jesus told us? Chapter 16 in the apostle John’s gospel is about the Holy Spirit. Jesus explains to his disciples they will be persecuted after he leaves them and how they will grieve for him. At the same time, Jesus encourages them with the reassurance that they will receive an Advocate who will expose sins in light of Christ’s righteousness, and convince the world of the availability of God’s goodness and deliverance from judgment. (John 16:8)
It is the Spirit within who strengthens us through His power, who allows us to be loving, gracious, forgiving and merciful during times we feel depleted. It’s the Spirit abiding in us who lifts us up to the mountain top where we can see from the Father’s perspective instead of the view from the valley. It’s the Spirit who permeates every cell with Christ’s desire to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
For quite some time as a new believer, I struggled with the concept of quieting myself in order to connect with the Spirit. Now that I’ve learned to honor the place I have in the relationship with the Father, the Son and the Spirit, I allow myself to call upon this connection frequently, and in all circumstances. The fellowship is familiar, and I embrace its significance. It is a lifelong marriage of the utmost value; one written not upon paper, but upon my mind and heart.
As I allow the Spirit to have influence over me, my daily life becomes rich. Whether sitting at my computer writing a new post, coping with the throes of a bipolar depression cycle, or puttering in my small garden out on my deck, I feel His presence. I choose to rest in His embrace because He has made me new.
I am content.
“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
*©2017, Anne Lamott, “Hallelujah Anyway, Rediscovering Mercy,” p.6, Riverhead Books, NY, NY