Saturday, May 9, 2015

Photo Albums and Mercy

I love looking at old photo albums, don’t you? At least I love it if the photos don’t contain some of my awkward middle school years. I’d like to forget the school pictures documenting my 4-inch-tall bangs. Why do I love looking at old photo albums? They show me how much my parents cherish me. My whole childhood is recorded on those static cling pages: the day Mom went into the hospital 9 months pregnant, the Christmas when I shoved popcorn into my baby brother’s mouth, the morning I stepped onto the bus for my first day of kindergarten. When we reminisce, I know the moments of my life are among their treasured memories.

This same treasured feeling strikes me when I read Psalm 139, especially verses 13-16:
     For you created my inmost being; 
        you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
     I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
        your works are wonderful,
        I know that full well. 
     My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place,     
       when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
     Your eyes saw my unformed body;
       all the days ordained for me were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.
When I read the above passage, God’s gaze towards me seems to be laced with warmth. I find the faith to believe that He really does love me enough to pay the penalty of my sin with His own blood. Secure in His grace, I need not run from Him or hide my weakness. Just like a loving parent, when He disciplines me He desires to teach me a better way to live - not to vengefully punish my sin.

It’s easy to read the Old Testament and see a vengeful God, ready to punish offenders with death. But when I read it carefully, I can’t help but notice His abounding mercy. He would have spared the whole city of Sodom for the sake of only ten righteous people (Genesis 18:16-33). He sent a reluctant Jonah to Nineveh to bring a city to repentance. He commanded consideration for the poor in the Law (Exodus 22:22, Leviticus 19:9-10, Deuteronomy 26:12). Yes, God is Holy and righteous, but He is also merciful. Just as disobedient children can draw near to a loving and concerned parent, we can come close to God. Thank you God for sending us Jesus, who perfectly personifies your mercy and righteousness!

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