When I really think about it, all my life I have been blessed. My childhood was good; we didn’t have much, probably considered poor by some. But we were never hungry, clothes may not have been expensive but we were always clean. Our basic needs were met. My father was a pastor so we attended church every Sunday. I was taught if you went to church, obeyed the commandments, and was a good person, you would not have any problems. So I was good. I never messed with drugs or broke the law. I married young but if I’m to be honest I was blessed even then, I was never abused or mistreated in any way. In spite of us being young we raised an awesome son and even when the marriage ended, when it came to our son, we were together. Our son never gave us any problems. I had been self-employed since the age of seventeen. And any job I did work, I excelled. I’m not saying life didn’t happen but when it did, it always worked out for me. I was never sick. I always helped anybody I could. It sounds like I’m bragging, right? I’m not. It’s the truth. The problem here is that I believed I was blessed because I was good.

So when the storms came and they just kept coming until I found myself in the wilderness, I wanted to know why this was happening to me. I was good. And not like before, nothing I did could get myself out. Things just kept getting worse. I was sick, could not work and eventually lost everything I owned. So I was mad, yes mad at God. I was good. I went to church every Sunday. I helped people. Oh yes, I alternated from being angry to depressed. I did a lot of talking with God. It took a while but God showed me how wrong I was. It was in the wilderness that I really began to understand about God’s mercy and grace. Jesus speaks a parable where two men went into the temple to pray; one of them thanked God that he was not like other men who did bad things, he talked about how he followed the law, in other words how good he was. The other man who did not look up because he believed he was unworthy, he asked God for mercy because he was a sinner. Jesus said it was this man who was justified because he did not praise himself and he was humble. (Luke 18:9-14). Before the wilderness I was like the first man. All those years I thought I deserved his goodness when the reality is I am not worthy. Because of Jesus, everyone gets the same mercy and grace, the good, the bad and the ugly. It is a gift. It is not what we do or how good we are. Grace is God’s unmerited favor and it goes beyond mercy. Mercy is God not giving us the punishment that we deserve for our sins. I thank God for showing me favor, grace and mercy most of my life. I thank Him for the wilderness because it was there that I received a renewed understanding of His love. Sometimes with people we feel if we don’t say or do the right things, or we don’t behave the way they want us to they may not love us. Before the wilderness that is how I thought it was with God. I still strive every day to be good. The difference is now it is not so I can receive God’s mercy and grace. That is a gift that God being God gives to whomever he pleases, whether they are good or bad. God knows nobody is perfect, and he knows we have all fallen short of his glory. I strive to be good not so God will love me, God loves us unconditionally. I do it because he has been so good to me and I love HIM. Please read and study today’s scriptures in Food For The Soul. God’s Word can explain it much better than I can.

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