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Grace and Mercy

January 7, 2021

I am an avid bookworm–a lover of words. While I am great at completing Bible studies, I am not so great at reading Scripture. I deeply enjoy learning about Christ, about His character and heart for His children, but often I try to satisfy this desire by studying books about Christ-related topics. It seems easier to relate to today’s authors who are writing about modern problems rather than trying to decipher the complicated cultural context of Biblical times. Yet, I long to know God deeper and to do so I need to be in His presence. This yearning has convicted me that I need to quit substituting reading words about God for reading words from God. So, I joined a group for accountability and together we are reading the chronological Bible in its entirety. While not perfect, this daily time exploring what God says about who He is and how people’s lives were changed has grounded me in this season of unrest. I have found I relate to the humanness of so many Bible characters. Much like Jonah my disobedience has landed me in the belly of some pretty frightening whale. Similar to the woman so desperate to merely touch the robes of Jesus, I know the need to be healed. Just as the son squandered his inheritance, I too have wasted so many blessings only to return to the Father empty handed.

As I explore passages, God is often displaying two things to each individual: grace and mercy. These words are commonplace in church, but I often find myself fumbling through exactly what they mean and how they are different. In his book Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, Max Lucado writes, “Grace goes beyond mercy. The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the Prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.”

Mercy is forgiveness. Grace is favor.

How humbling to know that Christ gives both lavishly. Over and over despite the offense, we see God offer forgiveness and favor. There is nothing too messy, too scary that He does not redeem. No person that He turns away. We do not see God operate with I-owe-yous or tally marks. There is nothing anyone does to earn, bargain, or plead their way to His compassion.

These people are pardoned because God says they are, and if I relate to these people in their struggles, I must believe God can say the same of me. His forgiveness makes me free. His favor makes me loved.

So in true prodigal son fashion, I will return home again. Home to a Father who will tenderly place His arm around me and say, ‘this daughter of mine was dead and has now returned to life, she was lost, but now she is found’ (Luke 15:24).