Falling into the Ocean of Mercy

Falling into the Ocean of Mercy

Falling Into the Ocean of Mercy
Read time: 8.5 minutes

“Above the manyness of time stands the one eternal God, with wisdom to guide us, strength to protect us and love to keep us. His boundless love supports and contains us as a mighty ocean contains and supports the tiny drops of every wave. With a surging fullness he is forever moving toward us, seeking to fill the little creeks and bays of our lives with unlimited resources.” *
— Dr. Martin Luther King

Beautiful as these words are, the immensity of God’s “…boundless love that supports and contains us…”, is so beyond our ability to fathom that we can easily slip into molding God in our image — a famous quote sums it up, “God created us in God’s image, and we returned the favour”. **

Love is the heart of God. It is what Jesus’ life and His death are about — “God IS love” [1Jn 4:8,16]

God’s love lies at the heart of the Easter Triduum, yet we sometimes focus solely on Jesus’ passion and sacrifice as the atonement for our sin and a ransom paid to restore our relationship with God. We lose sight of the bigger story of the ocean of love and mercy that is our God.

In our limited human way, the idea that Jesus took upon himself the punishment we deserve makes sense and balances the legal scales. It fits the retributive justice that we expect — an “eye for an eye” to match punishment to the crime. But God is all about redemption not retribution, restoration not separation, the joyful and long awaited welcoming of the returning prodigal son not his condemnation.

Jesus lived and breathed restoration of relationship. He consistently upset the forgiveness/punishment system — He so often forgave sin before healing, most often without being asked for forgiveness.

How often did He say, “Your sins are forgiven”, to those who came for physical healing?

How could He converse with a woman, a Samaritan, and offer her “Living Water” knowing full well her history?

How could He look at those who called for his crucifixion and not condemn them?

How could He turn to Peter when the cock crowed knowing that he denied Him — and then return to offer the opportunity to amend the three-fold denial?

Jesus lived and taught that God’s grace is not withheld as punishment, nor is it granted as reward.

God’s love and care for us is an Ocean of Mercy. There is no life-jacket, no ring-buoy on a rope to pull us to the “safety” of how we think things should be. We flounder, splash, and kick wildly. We exhaust ourselves. Our transactional mindset wants to earn the gift — to balance the scales.

But we always have a choice.

We can continue to struggle to comprehend the incomprehensible, to define the undefinable, and to accept the undeserved.

Or, we can be carried by the current in ways we cannot imagine.

What we find when we “surrender” — ‘surrender’ meaning ‘handing over’, not ‘giving up’ — we find that we float, effortlessly. We are surrounded by it — immersed in it. We are the tiny drops of the wave supported by the limitless ocean that is God’s love.

Amazed, we look around. Nothing but the endless expanse of mercy offered and repeated over and over as far as the eye can see, as long as breath is drawn.

We cannot make it greater than it is nor can we diminish it. Undeserving as we are, it is not for us to judge. It simply is, and is for us, eternally offered. Our words and our efforts disappear into the distance with no effect — the effect is on us as we accept and surrender.

2,000 years ago, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” Lk 23:34

Soldiers and people mocked Him, but He neither condemned them nor call down angels from heaven to save Him.

He said to the thief hanging beside him, “…I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” [Lk 23:43], simply because the thief humbly admitted his sin and accepted mercy.

While Jesus lived, He lived love. He taught love, and He healed in love and for love — as He did only what He saw the Father doing [Jn 5:19].

Jesus’ fidelity to love was His life. That fidelity is what took Him to the Cross, it is what made Him vulnerable. Love is what He refused to abandon, what He could not turn from even to save Himself.

Jesus suffered on the cross. The scourging, the nails, the excruciating pain of crucifixion were the physical pain He e


The rejection of His love was an equal if not greater pain in his heart and soul. Love is vulnerable because love risks rejection — and the ultimate pain is when all of yourself is offered, but is rejected.

So great was the feeling of abandonment that it overshadowed God’s closeness to Him. Did God turn away from Him in disgust as He bore the sin of the world? …or in His humanity, was the feeling of rejection so overwhelming that Jesus truly felt — alone?

Yet… He hung there, nailed to a cross, bleeding and dying… and I too ask…
“…why did they nail His feet and hands
His love would have held him there.” ***

* King, Dr. Martin Luther, July 1, 1962 to March 1, 1963(?) Draft of Chapter XIV, “The Mastery of Fear or Antidotes for Fear” https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/draft-chapter-xiv-mastery-fear-or-antidotes-fear

** Quote variously attributed to Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Blaise Pascal.

*** “WHY”
– Michael Card

Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
And why did he use a kiss to show them
That’s not what a kiss is for?

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

And why did it have to be a thorny
Crown pressed upon his head?
It should have been a royal one
Made of jewels and gold instead

It had to be a crown of thorns
Because in this life that we live
For all that would seek to love
A thorn is all the world has to give

Why did it have to be a heavy cross
He was made to bear?
And why did they nail His feet and hands
His love would have held him there

It was a cross for on a cross
A thief was supposed to pay
And Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away
Yes, Jesus had come into the world
To steal every heart away

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