Thursday, July 22, 2010

mercy


Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget how kind He is. 
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 
He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and tender mercies. 
He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle. (Psa 103:2-5)

When I first started appreciating movies I saw one called "Tender Mercies".   Made in 1983, Robert Duvall plays a washed up alcoholic Country-Western Singer, Max Sledge, who comes upon a young Christian widow and her son.  Because of the love of this woman, and the incredible grace of God, the alcoholic is transformed to a husband, a normal working man, a mentor, and a father.  Even so, Max is haunted by his past mistakes, including his failed marriage and an adult daughter seemingly destined to repeat her father's mistakes.  In the deepest part of his despair, Max reaches out to his wife who gently encourages him, saying that her prayers are filled with "thanking God for his tender mercies..."

The line (and the title) moved me.  I wasn't a born-again Christian at the time, but I was aware of deep pain and terrible turns life can take.  Later in my life, growing in the habit of reading the Bible, I found the term "tender mercies" appearing over and over again.  It made me think of the movie.

The term refers to the beauty and grace that God chooses to shower on His children...whether they deserve it or not.  What some people call good luck can also be called a "tender mercy" of God.  Because of His nature to be beautiful and also be our Father, we are given these every day.

On the hardest days I've had here in Africa, He gives me close, close friendships, words of encouragement, a husband who loves me (genuinely loves me) and a calling that He continues to renew and refresh.  In the quiet of my sorrow, things like sunsets... red and fiery and brilliant; birds that drop down in front of me so I can admire their painted beauty.... all seem like kisses from Him.

Because of this world and its unpredictable habit of surprising us with joy or flattening us with sorrow, I need Him.  I need to "notice" His tender mercies...all day, everyday.