Severe Mercies


“God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — ‘severe mercies’ at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better” (Elisabeth Elliot).

I saw where you entered through those gates of splendor you had written about all those years ago. I read where your own suffering had ended, that ‘severe mercy’ that God gave you to bear, Alzheimer’s disease, was finally over.

You taught me that the mark of a man is in being both tough as nails about what he believes and fights for and tender toward those he fights for.

You shared the words that your first husband, Jim, wrote, before he was martyred for his faith: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

You showed me that faithful obedience and surrender to Jesus aren’t the keys to joy. They are the joy, that a heart given over completely to God is a heart at rest.

You helped me see that trust doesn’t always require explanations or answers or reasons why. Faith is its own reward and God above all is enough.

You defined true femininity when you wrote these words: “. . . my plea is let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is”.

I hear God saying to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into your rest.”

I and so many others will carry on your legacy you left behind in your books and speeches and letters. We are your legacy.

So thank you. May all who come behind us also find us equally faithful.

The Book of Revelation (Not Revelations)

Tonight was the second night of the Wednesday series that Mike Glenn is leading on the Book of Revelation (not Revelations, as I mistakenly called it in a facebook post).

I love the part in Revelation 1 where John turns around to see the voice that speaks to him. Not just any voice. The voice. In John’s mind, Jesus’ voice is the only one that matters.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to your family and friends. I’m saying that ultimately what Jesus says to you and about you trumps what anybody else has said to you.

You may have been called names or put down by others. You may have even called yourself names out of frustration or anger. But the only name that matters is the name Jesus gives you (check Revelation 2). What He calls you is who you really are.

The Book of Revelation isn’t about the mark of the beast and what it will look like or what form it will take. It’s not about who the anti-christ is or how big and scary the dragon will be.

This book is about Jesus. Not about how Jesus will one day ascend the throne and reign as King, but how He’s already on that throne right now. From start to finish, John portrays Jesus as big enough to get you through whatever you’re facing. He’s strong enough to save you. He’s tender enough to pick up the broken pieces of your heart and put them back together into a new regenerated heart.

I read somewhere in a email that the Bible was written by people under persecution to people under persecution and only people who have suffered can really grasp the true meaning. I think that’s true. I think you only really know how strong and mighty Jesus is to save after He has reached down to you in your lowest point and lifted you out of your mess. Only those who have scars can truly worship with hearts overflowing with gratitude.

My prayer for me as I read and study this book is that I will get a much bigger revelation of Jesus than I ever have before. That I will see Him as both merciful and holy, loving and just, closer than my own breath yet high and lifted up and seated on the throne.

That’s my prayer for you, too.


Blessed are the merciful

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7)

In the Bible, grace and mercy are many times used together. I’ve heard it put this way that grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Mercy is withholding the right to revenge and giving grace instead. One of God’s characteristics is that He is merciful. If anyone had the right to exact judgment on what we’ve done wrong and how we’ve screwed up and when we’ve outright rebelled against Him, it’s God. But He in HIs grace gives us what we don’t deserve– forgiveness– and in His mercy withholds from us what we do deserve– everlasting punishment in hell.

To be merciful is to be like God. To forgive, even when forgiveness is not sought, is to be like God. Mercy is loving the unloveable. It’s easy to love someone who loves you back, but God calls us to love those who are so caught up in and trapped by fear and addictions that they are unable to love us back.

I like the Message version. It says, “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

If you show mercy, you get mercy. I also like to think that one of the characteristics of those who have experienced God’s grace and mercy is that they live out that grace and mercy toward others. You forgive much because you have been forgiven much. You don’t worry about the $100 worth of wrong someone did to you when God just forgave the $1 million worth of wrong you did against Him.

Brennan Manning says it best: “Our encounter with Mercy profoundly affects our interaction with others . . . . We look beyond appearances, beneath surfaces, to recognize others as companions in woundedness. Human flesh is heir to the assaults, within and without, of negative, judgmental thoughts, but we will not consent to them because God is merciful to us. We will not allow these attacks to lead us into the sins of self-preoccupation and self-defense. Swimming in the merciful love of Christ, we are free to laugh at the tendency to assume spiritual superiority– in ourselves. We are free to extend to others the mercy we have received.”

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.