Saturday, August 30, 2008

"I am compassionate."

From Today's Daily Light.
The king . . . held out to Esther the golden
scepter. . . . Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. “If he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.—Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.— For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.—We have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.—Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Esth. 5:2; Ex. 22:27; 1 John 4:16-19; Heb. 10:22; Eph. 2:18; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16)

One of my favorite devotional books is Daily Light. It is a daily set of readings made entirely of scripture. There are no poems or personal commentary, it is just bits and pieces of scripture strung together to say one things. The book was written by a father to lead his family in daily time with the Lord...and it is wonderful. It is very rare that I walk away unaffected, and without a nugget or two that specifically speak to, and help, my current situation. It's also neat when, unbeknownst to me, I walk away with something for someone else.

But, sometimes, when I read a section like the one above, I wonder if it would have the same impact on me if I wasn't already familiar with the context of the various scripture references. For example, the first line effected me "The king . . . held out to Esther the golden scepter. . . . Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter." Now, contentually, this is not "I am compassionate" or "let us draw near...with full assurance of faith." But, I know the story and that snippet was enough to immediately speak to me and set my mind to see the other, generally more familiar verses, with new eyes.

In the book of Esther, it tells the story of a young girl who is gathered up along with every other virgin in her town, to "try out" as the new queen, i.e., become part of a harem for the rest of her life in hopes of being chosen as queen. Esther was chosen (naming the book after her sort of gives that away right at the get-go). But, even as queen, there were certain rules and regulations she was given. One was that she was only allowed into the King's presence if he asked for her. In fact, she could have been banished or killed if she dared presume to go to the King without an invitation. However, in a state of desperate need to protect her people, she approached the throne room and instead of sending her away to a dungeon or death, he held out the golden scepter and heard what she had to say. Why? Because he loved her and had mercy on her.

So it is, only infinity times more, with God. He loves, so he beckons us into His presence. He listens and He has compassion.

There have been few times in my life that I have been more thankful for that truth than right now. There's been a storm brewing in my family. There is a storm brewing out in the caribbean which just might be headed to once again destroy the City I call home. The kiddos (my nieces and nephew) are going to be in another state for at least the next week while we wait and watch and see where the God who rides upon the storm plants His feet. And, yet, this morning, despite a twinge in my chest when I think about the kiddos...I'm at rest.

That wasn't the case yestderday or the day before or the day before that...but it is today because He heard my pleas for mercy and has answered with peace.

God is faithful, even when we are not. Even when our emotions or our sin are so clouding everything else that all we can muster is a "God help". Even when we can't muster that, He is praying and interceding for us, and is ready to hold out the golden scepter to us when we "dare" to approach His throne room.

So..."Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

He is compassionate. He will hear. He will show mercy and grant us peace.

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