In commenting on yesterdays first Mercy Prayer post, cbrown wrote:
“I would like to share portions of a 9 page letter I received from an inmate I met in prison ministry who has been sentenced to a life sentence without parole. “I can remember like it was yesterday; I cried out Lord,I can’t wait much longer, please whatever you have to do to make me fit do it quickly– and in the recesses of my spirit I heard, ‘the timing of events are not yours to say’. Then I said Lord forgive me. Again within the recesses my spirit the Lord said ‘in an instant a life may turn around;a heart may be open in a moment of grace. You must be willing to start anew’. I cried out Lord please teach me. Do and take however long you have to,but Lord don’t leave me. Then I remembered the Scripture ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’”.
Cbrown, thank you. That excerpt is a good example of how God’s mercy can help and lessen our misery in the most extreme circumstances.
It shows our need of what only God can do– while leaving us with questions that only God knows how to answer. i.e. What if by our intentional wrong or unintentional negligence we rob others of their opportunity to find God’s mercy for themselves?
Our DTW recording session with author Robert Gelinas (The Mercy Prayer) was all that I hoped for and more. Out of his own experience, and through his ongoing involvement with hurting and abandoned people– Robert pushed our awareness and need for both justice and mercy to the limit.
My take is that Robert has been radicalized not only by the wrongs he sees and lives with in his own community, but also by increasingly seeing how much we all need mercy as much as the air we breathe.
He believes, as the cbrown excerpt above illustrates, that God wants to, and can relieve (i.e. temporarily lessen and ultimately resolve), the consequences of sin and suffering even in the most extreme circumstances.
He emphasizes that the heart of God– as seen in Christ– has always been about transformation rather than condemnation and that (while there is a place for fear) hearts are most deeply changed in the awareness and experience of mercy rather than threat.
As we recorded conversations to be aired on DTW, I was deeply impressed by Robert’s conviction that mercy may be the theme of the Bible that deserves the most emphasis in our day to day lives.
In one of the last conversations we recorded, Robert showed from the teaching of Jesus that God gives us mercy with strings attached– the mercy he gives to us he expects us to give to others.
Throughout the day, yesterday, I think I became more aware of what Robert has seen– that even though God does not remove all consequences of our wrongs– he does want to involve us with him in bringing his presence and mercy to those who are suffering because of their sin, because of our sin, – or because of the sins of others.
Am looking forward to finishing The Mercy Prayer, while wanting to experience more of what Robert begins his book with,
“For those who sin and those who suffer. For those who suffer because of sin For those who sin to alleviate their suffering. Lord have mercy on us.”