Every Wednesday, my three littlest guys and I pack up and head off to Community Bible Study. It is such a gift to study God’s word in a diverse group of women – age, race, native tongue, faith background. To say it is rich is an understatement. Last year we waded through the book of Romans, and it was a journey… I have since been marinating in a particular idea that is personally convicting and challenging and beautiful.

For God has assigned all of us together—Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders—to disobedience so He can show His mercy to all.  Romans 11:32

It is an odd thing that we would be “consigned to disobedience”… we are doomed in a sense. The word, consigned, means imprisoned or shut in. And it is true, isn’t it? There is something visceral in us that sort of shudders and wants to break out against “obedience.” Obedience seems hard, against our nature, confining.

But anyone who has ever cared for a child knows that with obedience comes safety and freedom and enjoyment! We might unconditionally love a little one {which is why we discipline, because loving someone sees that what is best for a child is for them to know where the boundary lines are – whether it is that the oven will burn them or their lies will burn them – we discipline with a heart of love for their safety and to preserve life!} but we get to enjoy those little people so much more when they are walking within the boundary lines! We want to bless and reward when they see the wisdom in and obey the “strong suggestions” parents have set out for them.

 Even as adults, when we obey the “rules”, we get along better; there is freedom to enjoy one another; there is trust built and reward in relationships. However, when we disobey those same rules of engagement – whether through breaking our word, gossip, arrogance or disregard – make a very difficult time enjoying relationship with one another.

So I have been thinking about this idea that we are doomed to disobedience in a sense, but that God intends it and is using that fact for good purpose. He says that ALL are consigned to disobedience… “SO THAT he might show mercy to all.” See, if some of us were to obey the rules all the time, with ease and success, what would be the outcome?


Extreme haughtiness and disdain for those who cannot follow the same rules.

Hard hearts.

Much talk about how everyone else needs God but no personal need for God.

Selfish independence that does not need for anyone or anything.

Sadly, this is often the perception of the church. We are those “religious people” who have gotten good at following the rules, but have forgotten that we were freed from the very imprisonment we are judging others for being entrapped…as if we weren’t still somehow ensnared ourselves.

But God knows that mere obedience is not the end goal. It is not the most fulfilling thing. Living a “good life” is worth nothing if lived apart from God. Relationship with Him is what gives the greatest zing in life. It is what gives life and fulfillment and peace and belonging. JOY is found in Jesus, with Jesus.

And so God somehow sees our disobedience as an opportunity for mercy.

It got me thinking… in the times I have run, hid, disobeyed, disregarded the rules… God has never yelled at me. He has let natural consequences take their course, yes, but He has remained close. He has remained merciful. He has allowed my heart to come to despair and discomfort and a recognition that something was missing. And when I came to, I found him patiently, kindly, waiting for me to return. His kindness really does lead us to repentance.

And then I kept thinking… how often do I see other’s disobedience, or disregard for the “rules” as an opportunity for mercy. How often do I see the disobedience of my three little men as an opportunity for mercy. A moment to not give them what they deserve and instead give them love and empathy and compassion that is unearned, undeserved, unsolicited.

Could I perhaps be a window through whom they could taste the good mercy of the God that has won me? Could I be a reflection of His kindness and patience and long-suffering with me? I fear I have more often obscured him… I have blocked these little peoples’ vision of the mercy of God. And so I am getting transparent these days. I am inviting mercy and I am seeing the sweet and surprised hearts who are receiving a soft word or even silence, instead of the firm rebuke or shouts of frustration that they are unfortunately more accustomed to. I so want to let natural consequences speak more, and for my presence to be the safe place where they fall into when they fail and know that their confessions of truth and the ugly disobedience that is hardwired in their hearts can be untangled… so they can be set free.

I will not be the one to untangle, but I might, I just might, have something to do with pointing them to the one who can.

One thought on “Mercy

  1. I’m glad you liked it! Emily always goes deep. I really enjoy her. I don’t know her well but she radiates God’s love! I liked how she encouraged us to “let go” a little more and allow the possibility of mistakes for God’s teaching and mercy ! Too often I have interfered and been a horrid example of the love and grace God has so willingly given me:) I miss coffee dates too:) until I see you again may Gods mercy touch you in all the places we need it! Love, Jane

    Sent from my iPhone


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