Last week I picked up a book at Sam’s Club called The Name of God is Mercy by Pope Francis. In the past, my pride would have prevented me from reading what any Pope would have to say…because I wasn’t Catholic and because I wasn’t Catholic, I felt superior.
I had yet to discover this sweet place in Jesus that would allow me to learn truth from those outside “my theological camp.”
I hate that…feeling superior. When I feel it creep up in my heart today, I gag and beg God for mercy…it’s really quite unbecoming for those of us who say, “I want to love like Jesus.”
Not to mention, our words become less believable.
I’m only half way through this book and I can already say with great joy, “I love the Pope!”
And…I don’t agree with everything I am reading. I also don’t feel the need to tell you what that is because it doesn’t matter.
What matters is the truth about mercy and God’s desire for it to change us…soften us… and lead us to hate the sin that hurts us and others.
Mercy from Heaven and from those who release it in the earth contains within it a spiritual power that goes into the DNA of our souls and shakes things up…
I like to call it a holy confrontation that says:
“There is a better way. There is a way out. There is a way for your restless soul to find peace, comfort and salvation. There is a highway of mercy that will lead you to hate what’s not good for you and love what is…not only changing your behavior but your desires.”
And sometimes it only takes one tiny drop of mercy for our eyes to open and have a glimmer of faith that it might be true…
Like the day when Nathan knocked on the door of the bedroom I had been hiding in for several days-
…no food…no water…no shower…no hope. In fact, I reluctantly share…I was in the darkest, biggest battle of my life and over my life.
It’s the closest I’ve come to knowing without a doubt there are wicked spiritual forces that taunt and torment us…whispering, “Your family would be better off without you.”
The dark room with no windows was reflective of not being able to see the truth of God’s love for me in the mess I made.
The fear of running out of grace and overusing its intended purpose sunk into my soul and left me in a fetal position feeling anxiety and despair like never before.
But then I heard a knock.
I got out of bed, opened the door and Nathan was standing there with a small glass of water. He simply said, “You need to drink water.” And then he left.
“…I was thirsty and you gave me a drink…” Matthew 25:35
I got back in bed wondering that maybe if my husband didn’t want me to die, there was hope. Maybe the glass of water was him saying, “Our marriage is over but I care for your well-being.” (And I cry as I type because I never get over this act of mercy from the one who could have been the most offended.)
One drop of mercy through one glass of water fell on my hardened and deceived heart that day. It was the beginning of a new life for us. I had not yet told Nathan I was sorry before he offered mercy in a cup…I had not taken 100% ownership for my choices without blaming others…I had not repented…I had not even decided to turn around and walk a different path…but I could recognize the path I had been on was not good…and that was “the opening,,,”
Pope Francis says it best in the following paragraph:
“I have always said that the Lord precedes us, he anticipates us. I believe the same can be said for His divine mercy, which heals our wounds; He anticipates our need for mercy. God waits; He waits for us to concede Him only the smallest glimmer of space so that He can enact forgiveness and His charity within us. Only he who has been touched and caressed by the tenderness of His mercy really knows the Lord. For this reason I have often said that the place where my encounter with the mercy of Jesus takes place is my sin.” The Name of God is Mercy: Pope Francis. Page 34
Thank you, Pope, for helping me find words for what happened that dark day, in that dark room, in my dark soul.
I would guess only 1% of my heart had an opening that day…maybe it was more, I don’t know. But what I do know is I also look for “the opening” in others now. I look for that glimmer of space that might make a glass of water feel like a drop of mercy…maybe a note, a visit, a meal…anything that says, “You matter…even in this.”
Showing mercy in tangible ways through acts of acceptance and kindness might get thrown back in our faces. It might be rejected. In might be a waste of time and emotion. And without trying to sound too feisty…
I believe people are worth it. And though there will be those who won’t receive it, won’t acknowledge they need it and throw it back in our faces, they may remember it on their death bed…it may be the spark that ignites their faith that God hasn’t forgotten them and there’s still mercy for them to be forgiven.