…to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy,
which He prepared beforehand for glory,
Romans 9:23 NASB
An emotionally fragile vine sat in my office one day. The theme of her monologue was monogamous in nature – life was not fair and had not treated her well; why didn’t God do something to help her? From any angle, and there were many as she poured out her unhappiness, it circled back around to this complaint to which her soul was seemingly wed. This was not the first time she had been in. Same song, second (and third and fourth…) verse applies here.
She looked every bit as fragile as she sounded. Appearances can be deceiving though. As surely as we look upon the outward appearance, the Lord looks deeper, surveying the heart. A hurting heart can be one’s own worst deceiver, (Jeremiah 17:9-10) causing it to roam, straying from safety, truth and virtue.
Sometimes He gives the vessel of mercy working with Him a peek as well, followed by a word in season. After all, He is a God of justice as well as mercy; thus, He won’t be mocked (to make mouths at, ridicule).
Before it could register in my mind, it fell out my mouth. I knew it was from Him. He’s more succinct than me:
“What more do you expect Him to do? He’s already done everything He’s going to do.” (the giving of His own Son in this age of Grace). “He’s waiting for you to make yours what He’s made available.”
You’d have thought I slapped her. She stopped in mid-complaint and stared at me. Of course I hadn’t touched her, but I too know what it’s like to be accosted by a word of truth from the Lord. He knows how and through whom to get His point across. In that moment He apparently had gotten to her.
Vines in the vineyard don’t present their cases in the same way; each is unique and so is our personal lamentation. What doesn’t change is that at some point in our commitment to follow Him, there must be a changing of the guard of our heart and our mouth, for the one speaks out of the other. (Luke 6:45ff)
There are appointed times for each of us when He determines we are to speak rightly of Him or persist in our unbelief. He is rich in mercy. A far cry from how my taken-aback plaintiff regarded His apparent lack of care or help. He also doesn’t expect us to help ourselves, but time and again instructs us to prepare ourselves for Him. Nowhere in the Word does it say, “God helps those who help themselves.”
He tells us we are blessed ones who trust (have confidence) in Him and whose trust (refuge, security, assurance) is Him –
“Blessed is the man (or woman) who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.
For (s)he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream
and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green,
and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”
What a beautiful description of mercy land. A humble heart willing to place its trust in Him – with even that act empowered by Holy Spirit’s compassion – will receive the word of truth and justice rightly spoken. Which in turn unblocks and makes a way for the flow of His fresh mercies for every new day.
While it is gloriously and blessedly true that ‘Mercy triumphs over Judgment’ (justice – James 2:13), it is as equally true that ‘Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of (His) throne; Mercy and Truth go before (His) face.’ (Psalm 89:14)
His Bride will speak the language of Mercy and Truth – from a heart whose guard has been changed, mercy upon mercy.
The place she learns and becomes fluent in this difficult tongue is none other than Mercy Land. Let’s visit the vineyard again; it’s been a while.
The accompanying photo is of a misty winter morning in the vineyard. In Mercy Land though, it could just as easily be a hot summer day, an overly wet Spring scene, or a chilly autumn morn. Regardless the season, lives saved and gathered in by His abundant grace – as some say, giving us what we don’t deserve – will be kept by mercy – not giving us what we do deserve.
His mercies are new every morning because He is faithful, even when we aren’t. He does not fail in dispensing fresh mercies to our frail, ‘but dust’ frames. He remembers how we’re made.
Then there’s this becoming Bride of His. How it thrills His heart when she remembers Who He is and speaks the truth about Him – to Him, to herself, and to others. His ear is always listening for her voice.
But. There’s always a ‘but’ when it comes to justice and mercy. To fully appreciate mercy one must hear and understand the offense for which judgment is rendered. Have you ever watched Judge Judy? When you have your day in her court, you know what you’re there for. You can tell when she’s had it up the gazoo with the whining, complaining, blame-shifting, and not taking responsibility for one’s own actions or lack thereof. It doesn’t fly in her courtroom.
Why do we think it should fly in His?
Consider that the same sun which brings forth greenness, blossom and the fruit of the vine is the same sun that bakes and hardens the ground, draining it of moisture and producing little to nothing.
Well, that’s harsh and unfair, you say. No. No, it isn’t. Mercy Land is impartial. As the songwriter wrote*:
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
When what has already been made available (Hebrews 6:7) is received into a heart that listens to truth and agrees with His assessment, there is a much deeper appreciation and gratitude for the concept and blessed gifts of mercy and grace, freely given. That is when one knows that mercy does indeed triumph over judgment.
Vessels of mercy upon whom the riches of His glory will be made known are an integral part of His bridal company. To reign with Him in His throne and dispense true justice, they will first be partakers of and intimately acquainted with the riches of His mercy.
Living in this fallen world is hard. Was the emotionally fragile vine sitting in my office wrong in her assessment? No. The facts of her life were harsh. Is life unfair? In the natural, yes, it often appears and feels that way. To rephrase an old country song, “He never promised us a rose garden.”
He promised us Mercy Land instead. With daily irrigation for roots extended toward Him in trust.
His mercies are new every morning. What more do we expect Him to do that He has not already done? It is ours for the taking.
~ Gracefully Free
*William Newell, 1865. At Calvary. Public Domain
Shammahs Field LLC/Shammah Ministries is the biblical counseling, life coaching, and spiritual growth ministry entrusted to Wayne & Nancy Bentz. You can learn more about the resources they have to offer at shammahsfield.com and nancybentz.com.