A Splendored Thing
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away—that would be Texas, 1955—I was a freshman in college. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing won the Academy Award that year for best song. I can still get swept up in the melody and words of that romantic ballad. And I can joyfully attest that “true love is a many splendored thing,” especially between a husband and a wife. Sweet and strong, with new discoveries always on the horizon.
Scripture tells me God is love. It is His essence. The love of God is the original many splendored thing, an entity with splendors greater and more numerous than any other kind of love. Like a dazzling diamond this love of God has many sparkling facets, too many in fact to name. His is a covenant love, faithful, wise, strong, unconditional, just, tough yet full of tender compassion, full of beauty and truth.
One radiant facet of God’s love, one quality that defines Him, is mercy. Indeed, His mercies never fail. They are new every morning. Mercy is the disposition to show kindness, forgiveness and help, especially when shown to an offender or somebody a person has power over. This is who God is! But, whether because of temperament, or wounds we have received from the unmerciful or the deception of the Enemy who is called “the Accuser of the brethren,” it is often hard for us to live at peace and joy under the Mercy. This is especially true when we have failed or when we think who we are or what we are doing is not good enough. Yet this is exactly the situation when the quality of mercy shines brightest and is eagerly offered by a God who loves His children well. When we fail His mercy does not fail. It is a good thing to understand, appropriate and live joyfully in the mercy of God. As we let this splendorous facet of God’s love permeate our lives, we can begin to look at others—especially those in our lives who are failing or not getting it right— with merciful hearts and then we can make room for them to walk beside us under the Mercy.
Perhaps today you need His mercy. (Don’t we all?) Perhaps today there is someone in your life who needs from you the same mercy as you have received—someone in your family, in your classroom, at your work or in the store. Today can be a new beginning. One morning recently I was touched as I read the following. It is a beautiful picture I don’t ever want to forget.
Under the Mercy,
Recently I was in a doctor’s office…when a young mother with long brown hair and a gentle face entered, pushing in a wheelchair a child three or four years old. The child obviously was disabled: her hands unable to grasp anything, her arms and legs flailing helplessly, her eyes unable to hold focus. Her voice could not make syllables but only squeals or little wails. The mother positioned the child’s chair so that they were face-to-face. She began softly singing and doing the hand motions to “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” directly in front of the child’s face, to attract her attention. She repeated it over and over, sometimes catching the child’s hand and kissing it, stroking her hair; she looked into the child’s eyes and whispered, with enormous tenderness, “I love you.” For a moment, I felt like an unwitting intruder into a sacred space.
Is this how we are, I wondered, before our God who wants to love us just this tenderly? Our limbs flailing aimlessly, unable to unify our energies to respond to the gift of life we have been given; our eyes unable to focus on the love God tries over and over in so many ways to reveal to us; our voices unable to respond coherently to this God whom our minds cannot comprehend? And is that why we so often turn to the word mercy when we want to speak of our God?
When God’s love touches us in our neediness, the sorrow and suffering inherent in the human condition, we name it mercy. Mercy is perhaps the loveliest of all God’s qualifies. This is the love that reaches into the dark space of our flailing and our failing, our losing and our dying. Mercy enters that space, picks us up and holds us tenderly until we are healed. Little by little, this love draws our groping hands and wasted energies to purposeful service; it looks directly into our uncomprehending eyes, hears our futile wail, and says, “No matter, I love you anyway. Come on…” And so mercy brings us to ever–new life.
—From “Living in the Mercy” by Elaine M. Prevallet in Weavings, September/October 2000