the weblog of Alan Knox

In the arms of your mercy I find rest

Posted by on Nov 17, 2007 in discipleship | 8 comments

This morning, Margaret and I went to the wedding of two of my students. On the way to the wedding, our normal radio station (a classic rock station) was playing old pop instead of classic rock. I changed to another channel, a Christian music station.

The first song that we heard on the Christian music station was “East to West” by Casting Crowns. We like Casting Crowns, and Margaret had heard this song, but I had not. Several times in the song, they sing, “In the arms of your mercy I find rest”. I started thinking about this. And Margaret and I talked about it for a few minutes.

Isn’t it wonderful that we can rest in God’s mercy? To me, this means that nothing will separate me from his love, and I do not have to do anything to earn his love. I do not have to worry about disappointing God. When I sin, he loves me. When I fail, he loves me.

Because of his mercy, I can rest. I do not have to worry about doing enough, or working enough, or believing enough, or going enough, or talking enough. I can rest because I know that God loves me and has done everything necessary.

However, even though I rest in God’s mercy in reality, I don’t always live as if I can rest in God’s mercy. Many days I find myself doing things to earn God’s love and mercy. Many times I convince myself that I need to do more so that God will be proud of me and so that I won’t make him ashamed of me. I end up working to earn God’s mercy, instead of resting in God’s mercy. Thankfully, God shows himself faithful, and reminds me that I can rest in him.

What does it mean to you to rest in God’s mercy? Do you ever find yourself trying to work to earn God’s mercy instead of resting in God’s mercy?


8 Comments

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  1. 11-17-2007

    Hi Alan,

    This is a couple of very self exposing posts! It is ver encouraging.

    I can’t say that I can remember trying to earn God’s mercy, however, I can remember plenty of times when I have caught myself beating myself up over some failure or sin! I thne have to remind myself and reconvince myself of God’s grace and mercy and 1 John 1:9!

    I recently had a revelation on humilty, through the parable of the Pharisee and publican. looking at the attitudes of each the Pharisee looks down on the other as if he himself doesn’t sin. The publican looks at the other and recognises his own sin.

    This taught me that the only thing I can say when someone sins against me is, “Lord have mercy!” I don’t know how many years I sat in Anglican churches saying that but it never meant what it means to me now!

    Each time I see the falleness of others I have to remeber that I need God’s mercy and so do they. They don’t need my critism or judgment, they need my mercy and forgiveness!

    I can only show mercy to others because I have found mercy for myself!

  2. 11-17-2007

    Alan,

    I commited a crime and knew if I was caught I would serve life in prison away from my loved ones. I was a fugitive on the run from the authorities. Then I woke up shaking and in a cold sweat.

    This is one of my worst reoccuring nightmares that I have. When I wake up realizing it was just a dream it is the best feeling of relief in the world and I can then rest peacefully.

    That is the feeling of mercy God gives me. I was guilty and deserved prison. But He woke me up and my eyes were opened to reality. A reality where in His eyes, through Christ, my crimes never happened.
    Hebrews 10:17 “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

  3. 11-17-2007

    Hi Alan,

    To me, resting in God’s mercy means trusting, and simply “being.” I trust that even though Christ performed perfectly and never sinned and never did anything to deserve God’s condemnation, He became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21a) and suffered God’s wrath. I also therefore trust that even though we fell far short of the glory of God and never did anything to earn righteousness, we became the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21b).

    I also trust that “we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6) and that we have been made “alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:5, Col 2:13). I trust that we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, and the life we live in the body, we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal 2:20).

    Since all of the above is true, we know that we can rest in our life in Christ. We can rest in the truth. Since our lives are not our own, but “Christ… is our life” (Col 3:4), then we can simply “be.” We can wake up each day and simply “be.” If we try to live our own lives – either through selfish sinning or through self-effort at living the good Christian life – then we aren’t resting in Him.

    But if we rest, and simply “be,” then Christ-in-us will animate us in ways that our own efforts never could. This, to me, is what it means to rest in the mercy of God. It means He’s not “number one” in my life. He is my life!

  4. 11-17-2007

    Richard,

    I try to combine my studies with personal posts so that I do not separate the two in my life. Thank you for sharing your perspective on mercy. God’s mercy should certainly lead us toward humbly offering mercy to others.

    Jeff,

    Yes! We deserve rejection, but instead God has accepted us in Christ. We should be prisoners held in the deepest dungeons, but we have been adopted as children and offered entrance into the very throne room of the king.

    Joel,

    “But if we rest, and simply ‘be,’ then Christ-in-us will animate us in ways that our own efforts never could.” Isn’t that awesome?!! The more we rest in Christ, the more he does through us.

    -Alan

  5. 11-17-2007

    It seems to me it’s a very short step to go beyond the realization that we cannot and have not earned God’s favor to the belief that it’s just fine with God if we sin.

    To I beat myself up over thoughts and acts that conflict with and ignore the will of God? I do. Because I’ve let God down. Will He forgive me? Yes. Does that mean He’s OK with my sin? Should I sin insouciantly because I revel in God’s grace? I don’t think so!

    If someone suggested to you that you could cheat on your wife because she’d forgive you, presumably you’d say: Whether she would or not, I don’t want to treat her that way, and I don’t want to offend God by doing that. An if you did cheat, presumably you’d feel guilty, even if you were forgiven. Is it wrong to feel guilty when you are, in fact, guilty?

    Rather than rely exclusively on verses about God’s grace, why not also study David’s story and psalms as well as Paul’s writings on sin?

  6. 11-17-2007

    George,

    I don’t think you’ll find anyone here who disagrees with you about the depravity of the human heart, nor about the depths of our sin. I don’t think you’ll find anyone here who desires to sin less. In fact, I think everyone who’s commented and probably everyone who’s read this wants to grow in maturity in Christ. I will continue to despise my sin (or, in actuality, the Spirit living within me will continue to despise my sin and convict me of that sin) and I will continue to weep and repent of my sin. On top of this, and in spite of my sin and in spite of the fact that I sin less now than previously, I will continue to rely completely upon God’s grace and mercy.

    -Alan

  7. 11-19-2007

    I heard that song last night as I was driving home. I needed this this morning Alan, thanks.

  8. 11-19-2007

    Jake,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad that God used this post in your life.

    -Alan