Words of grace are often unexpected. Have you ever done something wrong, hurt someone, and gone to them sheepishly offering an apology expecting correction or a sour look and instead gotten an "I understand" or an "It's OK"? Such a response can take us off guard because our experience shows us that grace is not often extended to those who do wrong.
We live in a society that demands justice and protection of rights; and if those rights are stolen or infringed upon, the offended is often quick to make known the penalty to the offender. The Declaration of Independence declares clearly our right to pursue happiness; and heaven forbid that anyone would rob us of any of that happiness. How dare they?
We've been trained by this type of action and response, expecting lashing out for our failures. But this is not how the kingdom of God works. Yes, our failures are real and we may feel we've let God down, but His response is different than what we might expect.
Consider these responses of the heart of God to those who have failed:
To a woman who has committed adultery, caught in the act, cowering before a belligerent crowd - Jesus tells her that He does not condemn her.
To Peter, all words, all passion, but not following through and denying knowing his Lord - Jesus commissions him to do His work. Feed my sheep.
To the prodigal son, the one who squandered and wasted what he thought was his entire inheritance and his position as a son - the father receives him with open arms and a celebration.
To the disciples cowering before God's glory when Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus - words of comfort, "Do not be afraid".
To you when you fail, when you've let yourself and others down - can you hear His heart for you?
I can remember one dark time during my walk with the Lord when I felt a complete failure, that I'd failed Him miserably, that I'd let Him down one too many times. He spoke these words to me, "My ways are higher than your ways. Do not lean on your own understanding. As far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your sin from you." This was the last thing I expected to hear in the muck and mire of my life. Unexpected words.
Know that God's heart is for you, even when yours is far from Him. When we are faithless, He remains faithful. He speaks to you as His child; the one He loves. His words do not point out your failures, where you've gone wrong. No, His words point out your position, who you are; you are His child and He is pleased with you.
The pictures in this blog post are from my most recent trip to Haiti. This is a beautiful land filled with beautiful people, desperate for God. Psalm 9:18 says that the needy will not always be ignored and that the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed. Please remember to pray for this nation.