Abundant Mercy

            It was a dark and stormy night.  Well, all right, it was actually a darkening, stormy afternoon in June of the year I was Twelve.  We lived out in the country, where we rented the farm house and barn.  I was in the back yard on our swing set, watching the thickening, ominous clouds roll in, while listening to weather reports through the increasing static on my transistor radio.  It was beginning to lightning and thunder.  Storm and tornado warnings were up for locations near to us.  It was exciting to me.  I tuned back and forth between a couple of the stations my folks listened to, since they carried more frequent and reliable weather than the Top 40 stations I normally heard.

            When it began raining, I headed indoors.  Mom began hustling me and my sisters down to our dirt floor basement below the dimly lit east room we called the utility porch.  The wind was picking up.  The edges of the kitchen floor’s cream colored linoleum began lifting.  We’d never seen that before.  There was excited commotion as Mom and the girls quickly closed doors and windows.  Soon we raised the trap door in the light butterscotch floor, situated between the chest freezer and hanging coats, then tramped down the wooden steps.  As I was part way down, there was a booming crash and the strong smell of pine.  There were screams and gasps.  Were we seeking shelter in time?

            The single overhead incandescent bulb went out as we went downstairs, leaving us in blackness, save for the one flashlight on hand.  We were sheltered for the better part of an hour, waiting for the all clear to be given over the radio.

            When we finally emerged, we discovered the yard was full of hailstones, and most of the half dozen cedar trees near the house were down.  One smashed into the southwest corner of our enclosed front porch.  It would be months before the porch was properly rebuilt.  Another tree was lying hard against the north side of the house, filling the view from one living room window with dark greenery.  The window was unbroken.  Otherwise, the house was intact.  In a little while, my dad came home, and we drove the country roads to take note of missing barns and other storm damage.  A tornado had left a path of destruction less than a mile from us. We were thankful we weren’t any worse off.

            This was merely one incident, albeit a dramatic one, that demonstrates God’s mercy.  His mercy has been evident in numerous situations over the years.  God has been there during other frightening storms and tornadoes where I live now with my wife and children.  He was merciful to me at age 19 when I was struck by a car as I walked across a busy intersection.  I was only bruised.  I’ve seen God’s mercy in a car accident my wife had several years ago.  He was merciful recently when we missed a deer while driving down the highway.  He protected me from evil when I discovered I had once lived in the same apartment building as a member of a child porno ring.  He was merciful in certain situations at work.  There are many more incidents I could relate if I gave it more thought.  Give some thought to several examples of God’s mercy in your own life.

            Mercy is related to grace.  God gives favor when it isn’t called for.  He shows us compassion, forbearance, restraint, and clemency.  While surveying the ravaged city of Jerusalem, after God had allowed the Babylonians to burn it, the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.’ (Lamentations 3:22-23).

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