You in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. Nehemiah 9:19
It’s my birthday today. I’m sixty years old. The big 6-O!
There was a winter storm last night, so we didn’t go out for dinner as we planned. I broiled some shrimp and scallops and was content to spend a quiet evening at home. I find myself content with silence more and more.
A colleague and his wife, my co-assistant pastor and my pastor of over 25 years and his wife joined Katie and me for lunch at the university. And they asked me what I’ve learned.
I’ve learned, and am learning, how to rest in the mercies of God. I’ve thought about grace a lot over the last two decades. I’ve thought quite a bit about the glory of God in the last ten years.
The relationship between the grace of God and the glory of God has occupied most of my theological reflection. We are dependent on His grace and He gets the glory. His grace alone sustains us, saves us, changes us.
But one thing I’m beginning to understand better is the mercy of God.
You see His mercies better looking back than looking forward. Any thoughtful reflection leads to the recognition of His sovereign care. His direction, His provision, His protection— we are humbled that He would use us at all, grateful that He would chose us as an object of His love.
At 60 you can rest and think about that. Perhaps you can even start to understand it.
I sometimes joke that by the end we are all Calvinist. But I don’t really mean this in any theological sense, only in the sense that the older we get the more clearly we see His hand, even in our greatest sorrows or failures.
I’ve had my share of losses. I was estranged from my daughter, and in some ways still am—at least in matter of the faith. I have a son whose choices sometimes keep me up at night. I have had reverses in my career and health. No reason or no way to list them all here.
But blessings too, too many to count: faithful friends, adorable grandchildren, a healthy church, a godly wife.
So we can have a cup of tea in the morning, resting completely in the mercies of God. So many things I can’t change, so many things I can’t do over, and yet He is Himself a quiet habitation, a sure foundation, a shelter in any storm.
In Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening today he writes about the children of Israel and their wanderings in Exodus:
They were never long in one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet they had an abiding home in their God, his pillar was their rooftree and its flame by night their household fire.
Let prospects be blighted, let hopes be blasted, let joy be withered, let mildew destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God, my strong habitation whereunto I continually resort.
Katie and I both wept. That’s it, really. In sixty years we are finally learning to rest in His mercy.
An abiding home is our God.
And it’s not the one on Cochran Rd.