|Grace, hit by two cars in front of the gas station|
where she was abandoned, received no vet care for months after
because she would let nobody rescue her.
The Bible says mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13), but I became an expert in judgment long ago. I bore the wrath of another’s judgment, of one who likely never knew the love of the Lord. So judgment got handed down, and I took what was poured into me and handed it out everywhere I went. I knew not mercy. Not the mercy of God to receive, nor the mercy of God I am called to give. So I stumbled down the path of life not just broken. But merciless. An iota here, an iota there.
But more than anything, I bathed in the filth of it, I washed in the scum of it, and I poured out rivers of the sin of it. Judgment. Condemnation. Anger. Wrath. Rage. While all along, a seed of compassion tucked away deep in my heart would not grow.
|Sweet Grace, settled into her new life|
in Walk by Faith Ministry’s sanctuary-style setting.
Along came the Lord. And not just salvation, as though that were not enough. But love. And Glory. And Mercy. And Miracle. And Grace. And all the others. Not just the God kind of glory, mercy, miracle, and grace. But the special needs dogs the Lord has placed in my care – including blind dog Glory, paralyzed dog Mercy, disabled senior severely neglected dog Miracle, and hit-by-two-cars-on-the-same-day Grace.
And now, this very day, with 18 mostly special needs and senior rescued dogs in my heart and care, one might only imagine how much, and how often, the Lord has used these dogs and the challenges they pose to teach me His ways. Picture it. Diapers, medications, wheelchairs, expressing bladders, cleaning out rectums, vet visits, feeding, in and out, out and in, cleaning, disabilities, handicaps, on call 24-7. As though the Lord has not had enough opportunity to use the challenges of people I have loved to teach me, to refine me, to grow me up in His image.
And so it was this very morning that Grace, the dog who was hit by two cars the same day at a gas station in rural Georgia, who sustained a major injury but would not allow anybody close enough to help her for months and whom it took six weeks for me to rescue with the help of someone the Lord sent along as I drove back and forth to rural Georgia, pulled one of her shenanigans. She didn’t want to come inside. Maybe not such a seeming big deal. Except this. It took her about a year to come when called. For days at a time, I had to leave her outdoors. I simply could not get her anywhere near me, let alone back inside from her time outdoors in the fenced yard. This is how petrified she was. So she finally learned she could trust me, but she learned something else also. From the other dogs. She learned to pick and choose when to obey. Reminding me so much of myself.
Though still so shy, and though still afraid at times, and though still dependent on everything having to be safe and familiar to her, Grace pulled a fast one on me this morning. She didn’t want to come in. She wanted to be outside in the cold sunshine. And therein lay my test. Would mercy triumph over judgment? Because if the truth be known, and known it is for I believe in transparency, I have sinned dearly through the years in too many areas to name. And one is this. Impatience and anger. How many times have I fallen short with the dogs? Too many to count. Some would say it is because I have so many, so much, to take care of with my ministry work. A plate so full with the dogs, and all the other aspects of the ministry, with so little help if any at times, that no wonder I have lost my temper and hurt the dogs when I should have been helping them. But I know better. This I know. I have cried out to the Lord time and again in confession, in repentance, and in a desperate plea for him to transform me into the woman He created to be. A woman of faith, a woman of love, a woman of grace and mercy. A woman like my Father. A woman that most of the time now I am.
And, not only has the Lord forgiven me, time and again, but He has taken me through the transformation process, and still is, even as I write this, teaching me to take off my old woman and to put on the new one. To be made new – that mercy might triumph over judgment.
And so it has this very day. For when Grace would not come inside when I called her name, no matter how many times I called, the Lord’s Holy Spirit moved upon the dark foreboding that had risen inside my heart to let me know the anger was on its way. And He caught me in His arms and lifted me up out of darkness. And what once I knew, and what for so long I have done, it dissipated.
Mercy triumphed. Judgment, anger, condemnation, what once was poured into me so long ago, what for so long has poured through me as I have allowed it to in my own sin, it faded. Mercy rose up, and Grace the dog allowed me to go out into the yard and to take her by the collar and lead her in to where I wanted to go. Not in righteous anger. Nor with my own mercy, for I have it not of my own self.
With His mercy. As mercy triumphed over judgment.
Mercy’s Triumph. By His grace alone.
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13 NASB
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2 KJV