Extravagant Mercy (Excerpt)

The Bible often portrays the grace of God as a thin stream of refreshing water that perseveres in a desert land.  The only way our parched souls can survive in a spiritually desolate society is to stay close to that stream.  That is why we come to worship, read our Bibles, serve others, and pray without ceasing throughout the day.  It’s all a way of drinking in the grace that keeps us spiritually alive.  The more time we spend by that stream, the more deeply our lives become rooted in God (Psalm 1).
     Those roots are pretty important because sometimes we get more grace than we want.  It doesn’t happen often, but when the storms come, the thin stream can suddenly turn into a raging river, washing away everything that is not firmly planted.  We never want to get too sentimental about grace.  While most days it is God’s gentle refreshment to our souls, some days it comes as a terrifying reminder that our lives are out of control.

On the stormy days, we may wonder if it was such a good idea to live so close to the stream.  We may even wish God would just leave us alone.  Yet if the torrent sweeps away the things that are not spiritually rooted, then even that is a grace.  Remember, the point of God’s grace is not to be nice to us. Grace does what we cannot do for ourselves.  It carries us home to God. Sometimes on a gentle stream.  Sometimes on a raging river.  Yet always back to God.

(from Extravagant Mercy by M. Craig Barnes)

Father hugging son and laughing


Have you ever had the feeling, “I don’t belong here.” Peter did. Remember when Jesus told Peter to let down his nets one more time after fishing all night? The amount of fish on demand caused Peter to tremble in the presence of Jesus and he said, “Get away from me for I am a sinful man.” In other words, “I don’t belong here.”

The word “belong” has a couple of meanings. The most common is to be owned by or be in the possession of. (ex. The dog belongs to me.) But the other is to be suitable or acceptable. (ex. The doghouse belongs outside.) When we think that we now belong to God; it is one thing, a precious thing, to be in His possession, but entirely another to say we belong in His presence. Like Peter, we don’t feel like we belong because we really DON’T belong here! I am nothing like God! We think different, act different, probably smell different too. And yet, John 1:12 says we, “have the right to be called sons of God.” And being sons and daughters means we belong to God – we are His! And it means we belong in His presence. It is fitting and suitable for us to be here. We need not approach sheepishly, but boldly to the throne of grace!

Father, I belong to You!