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Mercy is a gift

Finding Faith

Rev. Alison Grove

Part of our flawed human condition is that we do sometimes fail. Falling or failing is part of our human journey.

Throughout our lifetime we are bound to make mistakes. In fact, Webster’s Dictionary lists many definitions of failure: deficieny in a duty, obligation, or expectation; lack of success toward a desire end; insufficiency; falling short; not passing; entirely wanting; omitting or neglecting.

I can easily find myself missing the mark, for making hasty judgements, or poor decisions. The blessing of failure is that it leads me to a greater truth, if I don’t let myself drown in discouragement, regrets, or ridicule. Did you ever notice the people whom Jesus called and drew to himself? They were people who failed, people who were flawed.

Countless times throughout the Bible, we see God showing his love and patience toward men and women for saving them. These very ordinary people were the ones Jesus yearned to teach and for guiding them toward wholeness.

We don’t find Jesus lingering exceptionally long with people who thought they were living life perfectly. In fact, it is the ones who thought they were living perfectly (the Pharisees and the scribes) whom Jesus reprimanded severely.

It is out of our human lives that God reaches us. One would expect that these lives would be less wounded, perhaps less awkward, or less mixed up. We anticipate that our lives would have a quality of “pureness” to them, but God reaches us in a way that God has always reached humanity – through our ordinary, flawed lives.

The protests that we have seen in recent days speak a word of truth. A word of truth for representing signs that seem to run deeper within us. Mercy is one of God’s greatest gifts for being able to empathize with others, cheering and showing compassion toward those who are hurting.

As insults were being hurled to Jesus as he hung on the cross, the one thief turned to Jesus and said, “remember me when you come into your kingdrom. Jesus answered him and said, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)

No matter what the reason for our failures, we need to eventually move to the place where we can forgive ourselves for how we have failed.

We also need to ask forgiveness of God and of others if we have harmed them. Then we can truly turn with trust to God in Christ who graciously and persistently offers “his gift of mercy” our way.

The Apostle Paul says, “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions.” (Ephesians 2:4,5)

Even when you feel like the greatest failure in the world, the Scriptures are noticeably clear about God’s welcome to us. It is not too late for letting God come into those flawed places within you.

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Alison W. Grove, pastor of Covenant and Faith United Methodist Churches, Lock Haven

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