emotions, forgiveness, grace, mercy

The Mystery of the Spectacular Ordinary 


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For several years I have been struggling to forgive a very serious series of incidents that have had a major impact on my heart and mind as well as Mairi’s. Detail is unnecessary. But, suffice to say, I have been wrestling with the cognitive wisdom of ‘knowing’ that forgiveness was needed, for my own sake, but not quite knowing how to get my heart there.

When your heart recoils at the thought of forgiveness, when you feel very angry and more than justified in being so, it’s like walking around in life with stones in your shoe – especially when you want to start running. But bending down to untie your shoe, shake out the stones and then carry on is child’s play compared to unravelling the complexities of the human heart.

An Unmerciful Servant

Earlier this week, I’d gone in to our prayer room at home and shut the door behind me. I was sat reading my Bible, cradling a coffee, resisitng the inclination of my body to indulge in more sleep.

Finishing a Paul Tripp daily devotional, I turned to the actual Bible and started to read chapter 18 in the book of Matthew. Completing it as my eyes scanned and absorbed the very last verse, the Spirit of God stopped me as my heart went into something like spiritual tachycardia – in a good way.

{Cue the spectacular combination of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God}

It may not have been a sound like the blowing of a violent wind from heaven, but it might as well have been. In this moment God revealed to me, quite unexpectedly and in a brand new way, the gospel-truth that instantaneously unlocked my calloused heart to surrender to Him that which I have been holding on to for years: His preveniently personal mercy to me.

I realised that I had become an unmerciful servant.

Familiar Mystery

A fresh wave of His grace and mercy to me, infintiely higher than any grace or mercy I will ever extend to anyone else, washed over me as though for the first time. The living power of His Word detonating the sheer mystery of His grace inside me again, replaced the shocking  familiarity that had grown over my heart like an alien ivy on a beautiful house. There was no external sign or wonder, no goose bumps or even tears, but a sudden coming to my senses in a moment of grace.

Then what grace was this if not the rushing of violent wind or the resting of fiery tongues on my head?

The silent precision of spiritual heart surgery at the hands of Christ.

A Spectatcular Ordinary

What, then, is the point of such a personal disclosure?

  • You must never underestimate the spectacular glory that occurs in sitting down to pray and read your Bible. You are a spiritual being and spiritually seismic events do occur that alter the spiritual landscape within another realm that you can’t see.
  • That surely you must forgive those who have sinned against you but you most likely won’t if you’re only told you should and aren’t shown how to. Instead, come to Jesus and ask Him to show you how, understanding that He gives you exactly the amount of time you need for your heart to catch up with your mind.

Prayer of the Merciful Servant

If I was to help anyone to release forgiveness from a heart level to their brother or sister, I would simply now say that a) dialogue should always be part of the prescription but that b) even when this is prevented or impossible, a prayer can rise from your heart as a merciful servant:

Lord, when we come to you as the wandering ones that we all often are, help us to continually learn to leave Your presence just as the pardoned servant did his master but, rather than leaving to throttle others for their sins, instead leap for joy that You have forgiven us the deathly wages of our total depravity, promising to love and cheirsh us forever.

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