This morning I'm travelling several hundred miles on a train to go and drink some of the finest artisan coffee available, meet some young gospel ministers and preach on the tender mercy of God. Feeling distinctly like I'll fail to do justice to the task.
I'm reminded of words from puritan Stephen Charnock, he wrote that mercy's form is tenderness and effect is relief - good news that I need today.
[Christ] puts no difference between persons of the least, and those of the greatest demerit, but affecting the foulest monsters of sin, as well as the fairest of nature's children, he builds triumphal arches to his grace upon this rubbish, and makes men and angels admiringly gaze upon these infinitely free compassions; when he takes souls full of disease and misery into his arms. For it is manifest hereby, that the God and Lord of nature is no more bound to his servant, (as touching the gift of salvation) when she carries it the most smoothly with him, than when she rebels against him with the highest hand. And that Christ is at perfect liberty from any conditions, but that of his own, viz. faith; and that he can and will embrace the dirt and mud, as well as the beauty and varnish of nature, if they believe with the like precious faith.What's being built today?
We celebrate greatness with Triumphal Arches, he builds his arches on the site of our sin, weakness, and failures.
I saw on twitter today the stories of three former colleagues. Each doing the works prepared in advance for them, each a triumphal arch of grace.
- One is at home, with depression in the late stages of pregnancy.
- A second becomes director of a discipleship training school which launches today.
- A third, housebound with an auto-immune condition, is watching Charlie and Lola with their toddler.
God is building.
In the architecture of God each part matters, each is significant, each has value though we're prone to disregard and dismiss many, casting them aside to dereliction.
For a while as a teenager I wanted to be an architect (hold your dreams lightly), buildings interest me, design fascinates me. One generations beauty is the nexts ugly. The eternal architect takes us and carefully crafts us as his eye sees, beautiful, trophies and triumphal arches of his grace.
Image: Matt Brown - Creative Commons