** But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. ** Psalm 86:15
We all have certain verses that stand out to us and have their impact. Soon after arriving in Spain, the Lord spoke to me over and over again about how I was to reflect Him to the people here through this verse. It was quite a challenge for me. Psalm 86 became a part of my daily thoughts.
Anyone going through a major change in life struggles to maintain their peace. We struggle to stay calm, to not overreact, to not allow our emotions to dominate our decisions. The bigger the change, the harder it is to maintain our equilibrium.
Although I struggled daily to keep my feet planted firmly in my faith while trying to learn how to live in a new culture, the Lord was there to faithfully guide me. To be honest, I did not succeed at being much like Jesus in that difficult season, but I did learn much about Him.
I learned that no matter how far offtrack we get, or how much we struggle to be and do what we should, the Lord never misses a step. He is still who He is. Always. He doesn’t lose his balance. He doesn’t make mistakes.
I learned about his compassion. I learned that He sees and knows our pain and moves in closer to us to ease it. His compassion is active and penetrating. He gets up close and personal and brings sunshine into our darkest days.
I experienced His grace. His completely undeserved favor. For example, when homesickness in the first months was eating away at my heart, He sent me letters from family and friends. Do you remember hand-written letters?
Every day I would go to the mailbox and there would be a letter or two or four or five. I would go in the morning and get the mail and there they were. ** Good news from a far country**. A few times, I would go out to run an errand and peek into the box in the afternoon. More letters! I don’t know how He did that, but I was getting mail delivery twice a day!! Others said it was impossible, but I know that it was God’s Grace. Comforting grace.
I learned about His Infinite patience. His longsuffering. That first year I made a lot of mistakes. A lot. But the Lord never rebuked me. He never made me feel like a failure. He never told me He had made a mistake in sending us here. He just stayed with me. He did His job. He held up His side of the bargain to **Never leave me or forsake me**. No matter how badly I messed up.
I learned that He was Plenteous in Mercy. Rich in Mercy.
Isn’t that what we experience everyday? Do we ever get what we deserve for all of our mistakes and sin? Doesn’t the Lord always hold back some of the consequences to our actions or our words? We all know that He does. His mercy overflows on us. We so deserve a worse life experience than we have. But He chooses every day to pour out His Mercy.
I wonder if we treat others with that same measure of mercy that the Lord shows us? I know I want to but fail too often.
The Bible tells us that** With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful**… If we want the Lord to continue to show us mercy when we mess up, we need to learn to be merciful to others when they do. The human race is flawed. We need to remember that none of us shows as much mercy as the Lord does. Mercy was the Lord’s number one blessing to me in those early months. My desire is that I will be more and more merciful to others.
I also learned to cling to His Truth in our early days of cross culture living. Plenteous in truth. 66 books of Truth. When our world here was spinning out of control, I ran to Truth. At one point, I read the entire book of Job in one day. Desperate for insight. Desperate for help. Desperate for hope. It is amazing how long Job held onto his integrity through all of his pain.
Today, the Lord’s compassion, grace, longsuffering, mercy and truth are still with us. Every day. He hasn’t changed.
But we have. We have learned to be more compassionate and patient with others as they go through their own crisis.
We are more gracious and merciful when someone makes major mistakes, and have learned to overlook the smaller ones just like He does for us, giving Him time to his work in them.
And we still run to His Truth. It is our Rock, our Lighthouse, our Sustenance.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Lord is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Compassionate, merciful, gracious, longsuffering and Truth. They are His best qualities.
I am learning to make them mine.