This morning I meditate on God’s mercy. I try to get my head around what it means. I want understanding of this characteristic of God to move from my head to my heart. At the same time, my mind is distracted by a whole host of tasks I need to complete today. About to give up and cut my walk short, I decide instead to contemplate the mystery of God’s mercy for just one more lap. I repeat the words Lord, have mercy on me. There must be an explanation why—to me, anyway—it is impossible to ask God for mercy and to stay standing on one’s feet. With my imagination, I fall on my knees before the steps leading to God’s throne. I bow my head and speak those words: “Lord, have mercy on me.”
Every single word in that phrase is loaded.
Starting with the last, there is me. Coming into God’s throne room, I am wearing what looks like a wide and lengthy bridal train that spreads out behind me. The train is everything to do with me. It is not pure and white. Some of the stuff in my life is unattractive, so my train looks dull and grubby in comparison. It is heavy, too. I yank and tug to pull it through the pillars at the entrance. The effort nearly knocks me over, but I am determined to suceed. What a ridiculously comical sight, I think to myself. I imagine Jesus patiently watching my efforts. At last I stand at the steps before my heavenly Father’s throne with my train draped around me—all the intricacies of my life, like lacework, displayed for his attention. It is all that I have done, and everything I do in life: every action, thought, and word I speak. I come before God to seek his mercy, and to ask him to accept me and show compassion toward all the thoughts, words and deeds of my life. The fact that God doesn’t throw me, with my stained and soiled train, out of his presence is truly amazing.
Abraham jogs past on the inside track with two of my women friends. They pause their conversation, turn their heads toward me and we exchange hellos. Then I notice the Pink Apparition. She appears wearing all pink, except for her sports shoes. I pass a man—a regular walker—whose attire means business, apart from white sneakers. He strides purposefully, arms swinging rhythmically like pendulums of a clock. I presume this is his daily exercise before he heads off to sit in an office. I am conscious of our differences, even though we all take part in the same early morning activity. The act of asking for and receiving mercy is much the same. When we ask for mercy, God responds with the same grace to each of us, even though we are all different and no matter the condition of our bridal train.
Mercy requires that each of us take the same stance before God. This is displayed in the first word of the phrase: Lord. It is not just with my lips that I profess God as Lord, but with my heart, too. My spiritual kneeling symbolizes my heart-felt conviction that I am not worthy before a holy God. The bridal train of my life is spread out on the throne room floor as I worship. But, it is enveloped in God’s train that billows forth from him and fills the temple in which I am kneeling. I am swathed in his greatness, power, strength, purity, majesty, holiness, and mercy, that shines like the sun. “Lord,” my heart speaks again as I recognize who I am in relation to who he is. God desires a contrite heart. This is what I give to him on the fifth lap.
Psalm 51:1,17 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion… My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
The winter sun is low but with each lap it rises from between two trees that stand at the far end of the track. Even though the branches are bare, they cast long shadows that fall the length of the track. I marvel at the length of the shadows. It is cold walking in the shade of the trees, but the sun is quickly moving on its westward course. As I complete another lap, it emerges full and bright. I am bathed in sunlight. The rays take the chill from my body on a cold December morning. The mercy I receive from God warms my soul.
Greatness of God does not require me to stay in my humble and submissive position. Those two words—have mercy—in the middle of the phrase brings forth the heavenly Father’s tenderness. God opens up his whole self to me. It’s not just his throne room, but the many rooms in my Father’s house that become my home. I stand as a child of the most high God. Today, I linger in the home of my divine Father. I want to feel the fullness of his compassion! With those words, have mercy, I am shown favor. The few small words spoken on my knees with a heart turned toward God, displays the riches of his grace and glory.
This morning, I complete four laps in addition to my normal routine. I am pleased with this physical result, but more than that, as I leave my heavenly Father’s throne room my train gleams brightly in the sunlight. It floats around my head, twisting and swirling around the pillars of the throne room as I leave to tackle the day’s tasks.
December 2 – Duration: 31:29 minutes – Start time: 7:35 a.m. – End time: 8:06 a.m. – Pace: 16:09/mile – Distance: 1.95 miles – Calories: 155
Spend your own time in prayer and receive God’s mercy:
Five minutes of exercise
Come confidently into the throne room of God, your Father. Do not be fearful or intimidated. In God’s presence, you receive his mercy. God shows kindness and compassion to those who come to him. Reflect on the mercy that he gives.
A word from scripture
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy. Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
1. Repeat one or more of these lines of scripture as your come into God’s presence:
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 (NIV)
You are kind, God! Please have pity on me. You are always merciful!
Please wipe away my sins. Psalm 51:1 (CEV)
Have mercy. I run to you for safety. Psalm 57:1 (CEV)
You are my God. Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy. Psalm 140:6 (NIV)
Who is a God like you?…You…delight to show mercy. Micah 7:18 (NIV)
You are a gracious and merciful God. Nehemiah 9:31 (NIV)
2. Meditate on knowing that God takes pleasure in showering you with kindness and compassion. There is nothing you can do to deserve God’s mercy. He gives it freely and unconditionally.
For mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us. Micah 7:18 (MSG)
3. As you stand before God’s throne, imagine God’s mercy as his light shining on you. Use this scripture to help you:
Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78-79 (NLT)
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