Jesus’ love and His mercy have changed me, changed the way I see my past, how I deal with my present and my perspective on my future. When we take a moment to really think about it, it is quite mind-blowing as we pray in our concluding prayer of the Rosary, “by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, He has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life.” Is that fantastic news or what?
For years, I carried around guilt, shame, and self-condemnation for my sins. I also struggled with forgetting how good God is and how He desires to “lavish His love on us,” as scripture tells us. I forgot that I am made in His image, and according to Him, that is “very good.”
Do you ever wonder how our human condition is so forgetful? At times, I think I contracted a spiritual virus and its primary symptom is spiritual amnesia. This is not surprising if we read scripture and find hundreds of examples of forgetfulness for thousands of years before we arrived on the earth. We know our enemy comes “to kill, steal, and destroy” and begins his attack on our identity and our perception of God’s identity. We see this in the book of Genesis as the serpent speaks to Eve and confuses her by creating doubt as he says, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat the fruit of the tree…’” From the very beginning, we see how the serpent made Eve doubt God’s goodness. Sound familiar? It does to me.
Recently, I heard this spiritual virus referred to as a Spiritual Identity Crisis, which makes us SICK. Can you relate? I sure can.
We know life can get messy, and if we do not remember that Jesus is the Champion of all our mess, we will get lost thinking we can do it on our own. This “I got this” kind of thinking landed me in places and situations I would never have freely chosen to be. Slowly, through small bites of deception, I found myself in bondage to sin and enslaved in the enemy’s camp. My hands and feet were in shackles of depression, loneliness, isolation, and worst of all, hopelessness. It felt like I was living in Hell on earth, in a prison without a key. Anyone who has ever struggled with an addiction will tell you it feels like a prison. I was hurting Jesus, hurting myself, and those closest to me. It was terrible, but what made it 1000X worse was I did not have the power to stop myself, even though I prayed and cried out to God for help. Eventually, I decided to surrender 100% and turn myself in…to Jesus.
With the last bit of savings in our bank account, I surrendered myself to a three-month, faith-based rehab. Yes, REHAB–called the Home of Grace. I highly recommend it for anyone seeking freedom and seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus.
God finally had my undivided attention. The Holy Spirit told me the truth about myself, about how my actions hurt Jesus and how He calls me back to Himself with a passionate and life-giving love. I spent time reading and studying His Passion, the Old and New Testament, and I learned something unbelievably valuable that has been life-changing for the way I face my guilt and shame.
Please excuse my informal-southern-Louisiana-Cajun-style here, but we ain’t God’s first rodeo y’all. God has been dealing with forgetful, disobedient, stiff-necked, and sometimes hard-hearted people like us since the very beginning. He knows who He is dealing with when He created us. Guess what–He still seems to think we are “very good” because His only Begotten Son lives on the inside of us, and Jesus makes us “very good.”
After three months of reflection and a God feeding me with His Word, which I now see is my daily medicine for all of life’s challenges, here are a few thoughts I would like to share about the mercy of Jesus. I hope it encourages you to know Him more intimately and possibly allow Him to free you from whatever enslaves you, as He did for me.
Jesus wants to make our hearts His dwelling place.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?”1 Cor 6:19
I do not know about you, but If I have a VIP guest coming over to my house, the first thing I do is clean it. I clean with bleach! I vacuum, dust, mop, wash dishes and clothes and make sure my house is immaculate. The ironic thing about making my heart a dwelling place is Jesus is the only one who can clean it so that He can make it His dwelling place. He cleans it with His Precious Blood and makes it white as snow (See Isaiah 1:18). He brings His supernatural pressure washer and floods us with His life-giving and cleaning water, like on the Divine Mercy image. He is prepared to do a deep cleaning in our hearts if we invite Him in. Isn’t that great news? I feel a happy dance coming on.
Let us pray:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
He loves us enough to tell us the truth.
When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you…”Jn 16: 13
Have you ever been through a bad breakup? Have you ever felt so brokenhearted, it made you nauseous?
My first week at the Home of Grace, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin. In a matter of a few hours, I was deeply aware of how my sin hurt Jesus’ heart and even made His stomach hurt to the point of making Him nauseated. I broke His heart by justifying my sinful actions, which makes Him sick (See Rev 3:16). What seemed to hurt Him the most is how I didn’t trust in His mercy. I also had a difficult time forgiving myself for hurting Him. Facing the truth about ourselves is tough, but is there anyone you would want to tell you the truth other than Jesus? (See Woman at the Well Jn 4: 1-42).
Prayer: Jesus, please send me your Spirit of Truth and show me the truth about myself. I believe that You are the Truth and will show me the truth about myself, and that will set me free. I desire to love you and honor you, all the days of my life. Help me to love you with all my heart, all my soul, and all my strength.
We can certainly trust in His Mercy.
But go and learn what this means ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”MT 9:13
After a few weeks of reflection, I began to realize how insulting it is to Him for me NOT to ask Him to wash me, clean me, and send me out. If I do not, then it demonstrates to Him that His sacrifice of coming to this earth, His passion, death, and resurrection are irrelevant and not needed. Through reading the Diary of St. Faustina, I realized that I console Jesus’ heart when I run to His mercy. After hurting Him for so long, I am now aware that my thoughts, faith, and actions can console Him. Sign me up for that team!
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for coming to this earth, for your Word, for giving your life, for your Holy Spirit. Wash me clean with your most Precious Blood and make me white as snow. I trust you, Jesus.
Jesus offers us a new crown.
I will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”Is 61:3
In many ways, I felt like I was coming out of a war scene once I arrived at the Home of Grace. It was as if the smoke and fog were beginning to lift from the disaster of the battles I had lost. I felt wounded, defeated, sick, and hopeless. Yet, Jesus came and met me covered in my ashes of shame and despair and offered me hope and a new wardrobe.
Prayer: Jesus, please cover me with a new crown of beauty, a robe of your righteousness, and oil of joy.
Isaiah 61: 1- 10
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. … Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Jesus is always with us, no matter how far we have wandered.
“Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”LK 15:6
My roommate’s favorite shirt said, “I am the 100th sheep.” She wore it proudly.
Just think about that for a minute. Wouldn’t it make you feel special if Jesus left 99 people to come find you hanging out by the fence planning your silly little escape from His flock? Then, He picks you up and carries you back around His neck and never takes His eye off of you.
I admit I believe I had the privilege of being one of His lost sheep. I never thought I would ever think of it like it was a privilege, but that is the truth. After arriving at the Home of Grace, it felt like He kept me close to Him so I could remember the sound of His voice. All my distractions were gone, and I could recover from my spiritual amnesia, remembering that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other way.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your eyes that meet mine when I start my thinking and acting like a rebellious child. Thank you for coming after me, for loving me enough to discipline me, and for the sound of Your voice in my heart. Jesus, I trust you. Thank you for loving me and never giving up on me.
Friends, let us not walk but RUN into the arms of Jesus with all of our sin, shame, guilt, and never turn back. No one else can set us free like He can. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Jesus, I trust in you.
Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts,
Who pardons all your (my) sins, and heals all your (my) ills,
Who redeems your (my) life from the pit, and crowns you (me) with mercy and compassion,
Who fills your (my) days with good things, so your (my) youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD does righteous deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always accuse, and nurses no lasting anger; He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve. For as the heavens tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust.
But the LORD’s mercy is from age to age,
toward those who fear him.
His salvation is for the children’s children
of those who keep his covenant and remember to carry out his precepts.
The LORD has set his throne in heaven; his dominion extends over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels, mighty in strength, acting at his behest, obedient to his command.
Bless the LORD, all you his hosts, his ministers who carry out his will.
Bless the LORD, all his creatures, everywhere in his domain.
Bless the LORD, my soul!