“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”
I praise you, Lord God, for your warm and loving heart which makes it possible to always come to you and tell you what is bothering me, where I have failed, where I am uncertain, when I am angry, upset and hurting.
You are pleased when your children transparently pour out their hearts to you. We can be fully honest, “for you are good and ready to forgive and plenteous in mercy to all those who call upon you” (Ps. 86:5).
What a full-orbed God you are! On one side you are pure and perfect, high and holy. On the other, you are loving and merciful, gracious and gentle, kind and forgiving, faithful and tender.
There’s a tension between these two aspects of your character—being the firm Judge and the kind Justifier, the stern Punisher and the gracious Pardoner, the awesome Mighty One and the approachable Merciful One, the fearsome sin Condemner and the tender sin Forgiver.
Both sides are always present, showing the beautiful balance of your being, kept in place, at least in our minds, by the tension between the two aspects: your “firm side” and your “tender side.” This balance helps us respond to you well. Your unbending justice inspires a holy fear of you: awe, respect, caring deeply what you think, and having a fear of firm consequences if we sin.
And your all-encompassing compassionate side inspires love, trust, transparency and joy. Together they nurture worship, self-denial and obedience. Seeing this perfect balance in your character brings security, rest and contentment. In you we belong, in you we have worth, in you we have competence.
Your balance also reminds us of the positive tension that you desire in us: the remembrance of where we have come from (out of the dominion of darkness where we were condemned criminals before the court of Heaven, trapped in net of the enemy, in our natural depravity and in helplessness) and who we are in you (the beloved children of the King, brought into the Kingdom of Light, living in your love and grace).
In our natural selves we are sinful, rebellious, negative, selfish, unbelieving and destructive. But in you we are cleansed, forgiven, justified, equipped for special service, accepted, dearly loved, and delighted in. Keeping both in mind means we are able to be truly humble—that is, seeing ourselves as you see us. Keeping both in mind protects us from being depressed in the negative and from being proud in the positive.
Only you could bring us to such a balance, lifting us from the level of natural thinking to heavenly seeing, from a self-centered viewpoint to a Christ-centered understanding.
You, Lord, are our wonderful God: High and Mighty, Wise and Wonderful, Pure and Powerful, Eternal and Perfect. In you all is brought together in marvelous balance. May we live there with you consistently.
Prayer: “I bow before you in worship, Lord; I rise up before you to obey. Help me to see myself as you see me: being your beloved son while being a sinner whom I can’t trust. Help me to trust you instead. May you be glorified in my life today as I live in this positive and constructive tension, resting in your love. Amen.”