March 25, 2010

Limitless Mercy

One of the assignments for my Friday small group class in Bible was to listen to this podcast by Randy Harris. Randy is one of my favorite preachers/teachers/speakers. He preaches with great conviction, not afraid to share his own doubts, and someone who is a focused seeker of Jesus. This sermon that Mike Cope assigned to us by Randy is called Faithing. When he first preached this sermon last August I remember seeing a buzz about it on Facebook and some blogs. I am glad I finally took the time to listen, granted it was an assignment, but I love my bible assignments, they are pure joy to me. Click here to listen to Randy's sermon on Faithing.

I am continuing to read The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, two posts ago I quoted from the chapter of the prodigal son. I am currently reading about Henri's thoughts on the older brother. I just can't even express how rich this book is with insights. I always thought Henri Nouwen wrote more for the intellectuals, maybe because the word "theologian" was attached to his name, maybe because most of the people who I knew that had read his books were intellectuals themselves. But I have been amazed at the simplicity of Henri's writings, simple words written with an amount of depth that meets you right where you are. God was great at work in Henri. I can find truths that can sharpen and shape me on each page of his writings in this book, I might as well underline each sentence, highlight each page, because they are all worth looking back on. Here is the exert I will share with you today.

From page 74..

"Sometimes, people wonder: Whatever happened to the elder son?....
I am left alone with these questions. Just as I do not know how the younger son accepted the celebration or how he lived with his father after his return, I also do not know whether the elder son ever reconciled himself with his brother, his father, or himself. What I do know with unwavering certainty is the heart of the father. It is a heart of limitless mercy."

How many of us hold ourselves back from believing we are fully forgiven, fully redeemed and fully loved. This is an area that does not come easy for me, or for many I would speculate. But this is a place where I have chosen to believe God's truth over my inadequate understanding - which is, I am as loved as I deserve which is based on my actions and thoughts. It is in the moments that I really think about how loved I am by my Father in heaven that tears come. To sit and think upon this is more than my emotions can take without tears. God has cleansed me from my sins with each confession, but unfortunately or maybe fortunately He has left the memories. I know where I have failed in the last week, where I have fallen short to love as Jesus loves in so many ways. It is in those moments that my human weakness is so apparent, but to then in the midst of that realization to know that I am loved by God with limitless mercy, loved especially, just like you, I can not hold back my praise, my adoration and gratefulness to know, to really know, that I am truly loved by God.

I am reminded of the lyrics of How He Loves, sung by the David Crowder Band, "When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me."

I think that if I knew, if we knew, just how much we were loved our hearts would draw closer to Him than we could imagine. Rather than choosing anger, frustration, not to be patient with others, we would have so much love in us that we could react to others out of love and not the other.

Each day I pray to love God more than I did the day before, starting today I am going to add to that and ask God to help me realize his love for me greater than the day before.

We serve a God who is ever calling us, ever holding out His hand, ever believing in the best we can be. May I not close my eyes to those precious gifts.