When I was three years old, I was admitted to the hospital to have my tonsils out. I have only one memory of the entire event: I was in the hospital room, wearing a hospital gown, and a nurse was trying to give me a shot before my operation. Well, being three, I had quite an aversion to that idea, and I had none of the social inhibitions that, with greater maturity, could have held me back from letting that fact be known!
I remember that the nurse pulled up the sleeve of my gown and wiped my arm with alcohol. But quick as a flash, before she could get the needle in my arm, I pulled the sleeve back down and held it there with all my three-year-old wiggly might. If I remember correctly, we repeated our little tussle more than once before reinforcements came in and helped her get the job done.
In actuality, that shot was the first step in deadening the pain of the operation. I should have gladly accepted it to escape what would certainly be more painful without it. But try explaining that to an upset three-year-old. All I knew was that I didn’t like shots. I was afraid. And I was bound and determined that I knew what was best!
I wasn’t the only child to carry on so. I remember several times as a parent trying to help my children in some way but being met with as much resistance as they could muster. Sometimes they allowed their wants, their mood, or the level of pain or discomfort they feared govern how they reacted to a given situation. During those times, my heart, my motives, my intentions—and their need—did not even register in their minds.
Our reactions to life may not really change much as we get older. One night several months ago, I was talking with an unsaved woman who was in the midst of some pretty major problems. She acknowledged that some of her problems were the direct result of sinful choices she had made. She realized she was a sinner, but she was afraid to accept Christ as her Savior because she feared He would make her change her life. And frankly, she didn’t want the changes she knew He would want made.
That night I had the opportunity of sharing the love of Jesus with her, and her heart was touched in a new way. She realized that God would not make her change her life on her own, but that through His love and power, her life would be changed. Coming face-to-face with His love and her sin, she accepted Jesus as her personal Savior. And you know what? God did want to change her life. Gently, lovingly, and persistently, He has been working on her heart and mind. He has been changing her from the inside out. And it’s a good process!
It is an amazing blessing to watch a new Christian’s life being transformed by the power and love of God! I’m so glad that God doesn’t leave us as He finds us, floundering in the muck and mire of the messes sin makes in our lives. Instead, He lovingly picks us up—filth and all—and joyfully holds us close to His heart. He gently washes our wounds. He cleans and binds up our torn, broken places. He plants His desires in our hearts. And He gives us the strength and desire to do His will.
I’m so thankful for the love and power of God. And I’m thankful that it isn’t just for new Christians! His grace and mercies are new every morning for every saved person. And that’s because, regardless of our age or stage of life or how long we’ve been Christians, we all need new mercy. Every day.
I’ve been saved for twenty-eight years, and I still mess up more often than I would like to admit. As a young mother especially, I failed so many times. Often in the same way. Over and over. At the end of a long homeschool day, I’d be disgusted and disappointed in myself. I was well aware that my attitude or actions (or both!) had not properly reflected the God I loved to my children. I had spoken harshly. I had been unloving or impatient. I had been focused on what I thought I needed to get done instead of on what my children wanted to say.
I have spent a good bit of time beating myself up over my failures. But God has never beaten me up. When I go to Him, all I find is mercy and compassion. He never even brings up my past. He has never told me I’ll never measure up. He simply picks me up yet again and cradles me to His heart. He brushes me off and cleans me up. And thankfully, He continues to change my erring heart to make it more like His image!
Sin so easily besets and deceives us. Our emotions get ragged. Our bodies get tired. Our nerves get frazzled. Our mouths open up and say hurtful things. Our hearts and minds hold grudges. And in His love and mercy, God highlights those areas of our lives that need help and gently begins working.
But sometimes, even when we’ve been Christians for a long time, our first reaction is a flinching away from His hand. We’re focused on our fear, our anger, our pain, our desires. Or we’re comfortable in our mess. We fear the unknown. We fear change. And when that happens, we are not so apt to see or trust His heart, mercy, love, grace, wisdom, and power like we should.
As Christians, there is no need to ever be afraid of what such a loving wise God will do in our lives. There is never a time when we should try to hide anything from His eyes. There is never a time when we need flinch from His touch. No matter how long we’ve been saved, no matter how good our lives may look to others, we all still need God’s mercy and power every day.
It doesn’t matter where we are or where we’ve been. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or not done. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve failed. If we’re children of God, there is never the slightest reason to flinch away from His touch of love, mercy, power, and grace. We can trust Him!
He is there, holding us. Loving us. Gently washing yet another wound. Binding up another broken place. Purging and pruning. Making yet another part of our lives new and glorious when we let Him!
Embrace His love and let Him change you. You’ll be glad you did!
Kari Lewis is the "mom" here at Home School Enrichment. She and Frank have been married since 1977 and homeschooled their two sons, Matthew and Jonathan, from their early elementary years through their high school graduations. Together, the four of them started Home School Enrichment Magazine in late 2002. More recently, she's been enjoying her new role of mother-in-law and grandma! You can reach her at kari@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.