Photo credit to Abigail Vencil Photography
“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high has visited us…” Luke 1:78
Well, I haven’t gotten very far again, Lord. Here I am, up early. I can’t sleep. I’m wide awake and I have You on my mind. And I’m just wanting to know what You want me to be thinking about. So I open up Your Word. And these words stare back at me. These words that I read and thought about some yesterday. But today, this morning, all I can see are two words, tender mercy. And I think, what does the tender mercy of God look like? Shouldn’t I really know? Because shouldn’t I be able to exhibit that kind of mercy in my life? But don’t I have to know and experience it first before I can actually demonstrate it myself? So, do I?
I don’t think Luke is just having us think about You, Jesus, at Your birth. Yes, he is proving the veracity of Who You are by God’s Word. The Israelites would know that You were using this prophetic statement to point to Christ, but what if You were using Luke to show us even more, to take me ever deeper into You. I mean, here You are, Lord, using this Mesopotamian prophet to prophesy against his will about You. “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come forth from Jacob, a Scepter shall rise from Israel…” (Numbers 24:17) That is awesome in itself! But You didn’t stop there. Actually, You prefaced it by saying that this Dayspring that is visiting us is according to Your tender mercy.
I can’t help but think of Balaam’s words, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near…” Now I know that was because he was talking of a future event. But it’s so much a truth about where we stand with You in our hearts, Lord. There was a time when I saw You, but You weren’t really there in my life. There was a time when I saw You, but You seemed far away. I dreamed of walking with You but how could I walk with a God who lived in heaven until I was in heaven?
And here is part of that mercy that You show us. You are Emmanuel, God with us. You do more than draw near; You dwell inside. And what do You ask of me? “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…” (James 4:8) Only the Dayspring makes this possible.
But why did You do this? Was it out of duty? Or what? Lamentations 3:22 tells me, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” Another version says, “It is by the kindness of Jehovah that we are not destroyed for His mercies never fail.” Here, “mercies” is the Hebrew word “chesed” and “compassions” is the Hebrew word “racham.” I think I need to look at them together because I’m not so sure that they don’t go hand in hand in You, Lord. “Chesed” can be summed up as Your “lovingkindnesses.” But this compassion, what we call mercy, it’s as deep as the womb. It is like the way a mother cherishes her fetus within her. This is an intense word, and intense feeling, and intense cherishing. This is what does not fail in You. This is how You feel about Your children, those who draw near to You and allow You to draw near to them. This is the intensity of Your desire for nearness, that we would be a part of You, that You would cherish us within You, that You would love and protect and nourish us like a mother does her unborn babe.
It’s not just a feeling You have either. This is a position we acquire in You! You place us here. You conceive me within You. Your cherishing never stops; it never ends. I am forever surrounded by Your tender love, Your tender nurturing, Your tender protection, Your tender presence, Your tender mercy, Your tender compassion, Your tender power. In my new birth, when I place my trust in You, Jesus, You place me inside of You. I am secure, and safe, and loved, and cared for, and protected forever.
The beauty of Your mercy doesn’t stop there. Isaiah 30:18 takes it deeper. “And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” Here’s that compassion again, that mercy, that “racham”. It’s related to that first racham. But now look at how we get there. When Isaiah says that the Lord will wait, that word “chakah” comes from the idea of piercing, and implies “to adhere.” Now, I can’t help but think of You, Jesus, and how You were pierced through for me, for each of us. Why? Why the cross and the shame and the pain? Why the piercing?
Was it so that You could adhere Yourself to me, to those who would draw near to You in trusting faith? Because how does this verse in Isaiah end? “Blessed are all they that wait for Him.” I am blessed when I adhere myself to You, when I am pierced through by You, in You. Now how is that for the depth of the mercy of God? How more greatly could I be adhered to You than to be in Your very own womb? I mean really, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Now, it’s one thing to give Your life for me one time. But what about to do that and give Your life for me every day? I mean, I’ve got this picture of a mother carrying her child within her womb. How many mothers have I heard of that chose to save their own child within, even if it cost their own death? Isn’t that what You did? Isn’t that how You feel for us, for me?
What is the most important commandment? Love God. And what is second? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That word for neighbor in Greek is “plesion” and it comes from the root “pelas” which means near. It talks about closeness. And I’m just wondering how much closer, now much nearer one can get than being inside someone’s womb. And isn’t that the extent of Your love? Aren’t You telling us, telling me that You love me as a part of Yourself?
Do I see the implications of this kind of mercy being demonstrated toward me? Because if this kind of love, this kind of mercy, this kind of compassion, this deep for me, is being bestowed upon me, then what am I bestowing upon others? What if I don’t feel this compassion? What if I don’t know how to experience it? What if I have never drawn near enough to know? How can I ever express this to others?
But what if I have drawn near? What if I have allowed You to place me in Your womb? What if I have allowed You, even cried out for You, to embrace me in Your love and mercy like that? What if I am experiencing exactly that? What if I know what it is to be inside the womb of all wombs. What if I know not just what it is like to be loved by my Heavenly Father, but I know what it is like to be loved within Him by the love of a Mother? “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them.”
I wonder how much bearing this has on us? I mean, what if we valued Your whole image as You intend? Would we know more thouroughly what Your grace and mercy actually look like and feel like? Are we sometimes guilty of ignoring part of Your image? Do we not value even each other in Christ as is necessary to see that full image? Male and female were created in the image of God. I’ve heard the saying, “It takes two to tango”. Well, maybe understanding the value of both sides of Your created image, will draw us into a deeper knowledge of the original One we were created after. Maybe mercy isn’t complete in us until we look at the whole You and acknowledge the whole You exhibited amongst us and in us.
Paul said, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Yes, because of the compassion and mercy of God, we are heirs. Male or female, I am His offspring, buried in the bowels, in the womb of Christ, in God. What really matters? That I am one with Him. That You are one with Him. And what does that make us? One with Him. Yeah. I’m not male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free. I’m His child and so are you, if you are in Him.
So how ought that to change my life? I ought to respond like You, Lord, to my brothers and sisters in You. I ought to respond like You to the lost sheep around me. It’s like Joseph, when he saw his brother Benjamin after all those years and after all that pain. That compassion welled up in him as deep as the compassion of a mother for the child in her womb. He yearned for his brother. There was deep passion, a desire to be “intertwined.” He yearned to make himself known, to have that relationship, to know and be known. He yearned for what was lost. Isn’t that how You feel for us? Isn’t that how we ought to feel toward others. Isn’t that the heart of Christmas? Isn’t it all about Your yearning for us, to know us and be know by us? Yes. That’s the kind of love I want to show back. That’s the kind of love I want to learn to give. Lord, make me able to love that deeply in You.