There used to be a Walgreens commercial about being at an intersection—I forget if it was at the corner of Walgreens and Something; or Something and Walgreens; or was it the corner of Happy and Healthy? I'm not sure anymore. At any rate, I thought back to that commercial when I saw Sunday's bulletin which showed street signs where Grace and Mercy intersected. The guest pastor read from Jesus' story about two men praying in the temple. You may have heard the story. One
prayed to be heard—by other temple-goers—as he listed and leaned on his credentials. The other hung his head in shame as he pleaded for mercy, knowing full-well that he deserved none. To this day, I have a vivid recollection of another long-ago time when a visiting pastor read that story aloud, complete with the curtain-raiser which went something like this: "And to those of you who are full of yourselves and think you are so good you have no need for mercy."
Ouch! Fairly sure the older version with which I'd grown up said nothing of the sort, I went home and checked. It did. In that long-ago setting I remember seeing the story from a fresh perspective: one...that...meant...me!
I'm fairly sure that's why I have trouble with how we've become accustomed to throwing around the word "deserve." And I'm very sure it's why the following words jumped off the page of Sarah Young's Jesus Calling:
"Sometimes My children hesitate to receive My good gifts with open hands; feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don't deserve to be richly blessed. This is nonsense-thinking, because no one deserves anything from me. My kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it's about believing and receiving.
"When a child of Mine balks at accepting My gifts, I am deeply grieved. When you receive My abundant blessings with a grateful heart, I rejoice. My pleasure in giving and your pleasure in receiving flow together in joyous harmony."
And that brings us back to...this. When Mike asked what I was writing about, he said (just now), "So, you're gonna write about not getting what we deserve?" The answer is, "No. I wasn't even going to go there, but I COULD!" Or... I could just put this little reference from Psalm 86: "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."
To my way of thinking, that should stir us up to some thanks-living instead of thinking what all we deserve, because most of us live under the road sign at the intersection of Mercy and Grace.
Email Willene at email@example.com.
Willene Tanis is a longtime resident of the Imlay City area and an active volunteer in the community. Many readers find her 'Perspectives' column to universal and uplifting.