My Failures, His Mercy

My thoughts were jarred this morning when I read “A Marriage Prayer” in my study this morning “As Unto the Lord: A Tool for Wives Who Want to Glorify God” by Doorposts.

Teach them that marriage is not living for each other…

May they not expect that perfection of each other that belongs alone to Thee.

May they minimize each others’ weaknesses…

Give them a little something to forgive each day, 

that they may grow in the grace of longsuffering and of love.

Now make such assignments to them on the scroll of Thy will

as will bless them and develop their characters as they walk together.

Praying that God would give us “a little something to forgive each day”???  Think about it!!!  Meditate upon it and perhaps you will be surprised, then ashamed, then repentant, then thankful for the manifold opportunities to “develop our character”.  What is the Lord teaching me lately as I run across those (like those in today’s readings: Pam Forster, John Piper, Thomas Watson, and Marsha) who consider failures as God’s mercy, trials as God’s grace, suffering as God’s love.  Let me explain.

Instead of viewing my weakness with despair, can I give thanks to God for the opportunity to depend wholly upon Him for strength?

Instead of seeing my shortcomings with frustration, can I embrace my All in all as the Author and Perfecter of my faith?

Instead of considering my failures with self-condemnation, can I kneel before my Savior with a repentant, contrite heart?

Instead of being seized with fears without and within, can I cling tightly to my Lord and cry out ‘Abba Father’?

Can I allow my tears to keep me ‘tenderhearted’ towards my God and others? (thought from the prayer)

Can my hurts keep me sympathetic and merciful?

Can I view life’s interruptions as divinely-ordained practice to perfect patience?

Can my children’s exasperating behavior strengthen the resolve of my peace?

Can the trials that storm me undergird my submission to Sovereignty?

Can others’ mistakes and wrongdoings create exercises of forgiveness?

Can I view all these things without self-centered eyes – sharply aware of my own need for His grace, quietly acknowledging His merciful plan for my sanctification?

And it IS merciful.  Our flesh thrives in lukewarm, untroubled water.  He is merciful for not letting me continue on my laodicean way.  His rod of discipline administers loving and purifying blows.  His staff leads me in paths of righteousness but often I first must pass through the valley of the shadow of death.

The more I read about George Muller, the more I’m stunned by the grace of God marking His life.  When his only child was struck with a deadly illness, he recalls this:

While I was in this affliction, this great affliction, besides being at peace…I also felt perfectly at peace with regard to the cause of the affliction.  Once on a former occasion, the hand of the Lord was heavily laid on me…it was the Father’s rod, applied in infinite wisdom and love, for the restoration of my soul from a state of lukewarmness…  At this time, however, I had no such feeling.  I was assured that this affliction was not upon me in the way of the fatherly rod, but for the trial of my faith… by God’s abundant mercy, I own it to His praise, I was enabled to delight myself in the will of God; for I felt perfectly sure, that, if the Lord took this beloved daughter, it would be best for her parents, best for herself, and more for the glory of God than if she lived:  this better part I was satisfied with; and thus my heart had peace, perfect peace, and I had not a moment’s anxiety.

By God’s grace, she was spared but his wife died several years later and this is what he said:

Psalm 119:68 “You are good, and do good.”

1. The Lord was good, and did good, in giving her to me.

2. The Lord was good, and did good, in so long leaving her to me.

3. The Lord was good and did good, in taking her from me.

Everyday I see more and more how great is her loss to the orphans.  Yet, without an effort, my inmost soul habitually joys in the joy of that loved departed one.  Her happiness gives joy to me….  God Himself has done it; we are satisfied with Him.

From The Pleasures of God by John Piper, p. 182-184

So, my blemishes, my flaws, my sufferings, my trials, the irritations, the frustrations, the inconveniences, the unfulfillment… all are visible displays of His mercy.  For He exchanges His strength for my weakness. And that is merciful indeed.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nchomeschoolmom
    Sep 21, 2008 @ 19:50:54

    Thanks, Julie, for this post. I’m going to need to chew on it for some time to come!

    Beth

    Reply

  2. Jen
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 09:36:00

    “Chewing” with Beth, here. How do you always hit exactly where I am?? Lots of thoughts to ponder here…

    Btw…I didn’t know you were going through “As Unto the Lord”! I just bought it from KSKirstin on HK and am starting it this week! I have wanted to read it forever, and feel like God brought it at *just* the time I needed to do it most.

    Reply

  3. julesnpebbles
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 10:44:18

    Jen, maybe instead of “Hidden Art” we should do this study together on Earthen Vessels? I’ve been reading Hidden Art but a bit randomly.

    Reply

  4. Jen
    Sep 23, 2008 @ 08:26:39

    Sounds like a good idea to me. I’m still reading HA, but not as faithfully as I should, and I’m not keeping up with posting about it at *all*. I had that on my list to work on this week, and am still going to try…but I’d love to discuss this one!

    Reply

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