Why The ‘Best Mom Ever’ Is In Need of Mercy

“Thanks, Mom.  You’re the best mom ever.”

It was a casual minivan conversation.  She climbed up into her seat after preschool.  I promised to make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with strawberries and pretzels for lunch.

She bestowed on me the title of “Best Mom Ever,” clicked her seatbelt, and then asked if she could play on my Kindle.

But two days later, I am still thinking about the mercy of this.

psalm116-1

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

I may be a good mom, a making-an-effort-mom, an intentional mom, an organized mom, a take-this-seriously mom….

…but I am not the “Best Mom Ever.”

I have those days.  (Don’t we all?)

I grow weary.  I snap.  I grumble over dirty dishes and toilets.  I push too hard.  I hold on to things when I need to let go.  I feel distracted or selfish.  I forget.

This girl, though, this tiny encourager in the minivan seat behind me, doesn’t give me what I deserve or merit or earn.  She overlooks the faults and failures.

That’s what mercy does.

Mercy says, “You deserve judgment, discipline, and second-class status….but I choose not to give you what you deserve.”

And this is how I’ve learned to pray.

Lord, have mercy.

That Pharisee stood all bold and confident in the synagogue, booming out those prayers.  “God, I’m so righteous.  God I’m so worthy.  I’m not like those other people, the riff-raff and the sinners.”

But that tax collector dropped his eyes low:

“God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 8:13 NIV).

Have mercy on me, Lord.

And that blind man begging by the side of the road heard that Jesus was passing by and what could he cry out?  That he deserved healing?  That somehow he had suffered long enough and had earned a miracle?

No, he screamed it out so Jesus could hear this one desperate cry over the noisy chaos of the mob:

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!  (Luke 18:38 NIV).

This mercy prayer is what Jesus loved, the one that caught His attention and made Him pause, turn aside, and deliver.  Lord, have mercy.

Even Daniel, this man so righteous in the Baylonian world of unrighteousness, knew he couldn’t pray because of his own merit.

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy (Daniel 9:18 NIV).

So I pray this also about situations for others and situations for me: Lord, have mercy on me!

This is no manipulative mantra, no magic incantation.  It’s not the words themselves that matter.

It’s the attitude of my heart.  God delights in the humble.  He shows compassion to the needy.

And it’s right here where I recognize my utter dependence on Him that He shows His glory most clearly.

God, I know what I’ve already been given—mercy and grace, so much grace. You have been good to me.

And I know I can’t come here asking for Your help because I’ve worked this hard or because I am this good.  Not because I’ve tried to obey or because I’m righteous.  Not because I’ve spent this much time in Your Word today or got down on my knees when I prayed instead of praying with my eyes open while I’m driving.

There’s no holy act that could earn me the right to ask this….

No amount of “good” that makes me “good enough” to request Your favor or Your blessing.

And yet, I pray simply because You are merciful.

Scripture says God hears my prayers, but the answers don’t seem to come and it feels like He’s not even hearing me.

Am I being too bold?  Am I asking for too much?  Are there far more important things on His agenda?

Am I complaining too much and should I just settle for less and be grateful for what I get?  Am I too needy?  Too demanding or spoiled?

But then this.

I open up my daily Bible reading and start to run right through that Psalm for the day and at that first verse I sit stunned.  I read it over and over again:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live (Psalm 116:1-2 NIV).

He blows this fresh wind of mercy over me and He fills my hyperventilating lungs with His very own breath of hope and life.

I still can’t see the answer to my prayer.  I don’t see the solution or the end.

But I know this—He hears my cry for mercy.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

 

What’s My Motivation?

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

It’s typically the actor’s question.  What’s my motivation?

Even though I’m not an actor, I’ve been asking myself the same thing.

Or perhaps it isn’t me asking at all, but God who is nudging my heart.

It’s when I worship.  What is my motivation for singing now?
It’s when I serve.  What is my motivation for this ministry?
It’s when I do Mom things and Wife things.  What is my motivation for caring for my family in this way?
It’s when I speak and write.  What is my motivation for saying this?

It’s easy to feel at times that our behavior and actions are all that matter, thinking that what we do pleases God.

And if that was the true test, maybe some of us would be earning easy A’s in this life.

God, however, is always more interested in our heart than in the activity of our hands. 

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).  Our conduct and deeds are not judged on their own.  Instead, God penetrates the closed-off, hidden portions of our hearts and minds.  He seeks out our motivation for all that we do.

He asks questions.

In Mark 10, two brothers and a blind man both came to Jesus with requests and instead of performing immediate miracles or making instant promises, Jesus asked them each the same question.

It’s a question that’s all about motives.

James and John, the fiery sons of Zebedee, started out tentatively, “‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.'”

Jesus was no fool.  He asked them for specifics.  “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36).

What could their request be?  What was their deep-down true desire?  What motivated their service?

For these two brothers, the truth was an ugly one. They desired self-exaltation and personal glory.  “They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory” (Mark 10:37).

We serve because of the attention and praise it brings.  We want to be told how great we are and to feel proud of being your followers!  We want to be your right and left-hand guys, with all of the power and status that entails.

Jesus denied their request, teaching the disciples instead that God’s Kingdom doesn’t function with the same hierarchy as earthly realms.

“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).

Does a desire for attention and praise motivate us in the same way?  If you allowed God to ask you that question right now—What do you want me to do for you?—how would you answer?

Would you want material provision?
Would you want physical comfort or worldly success?
Would you want to feel like the best mom, wife, employee, daughter, friend?
Would you desire ministry impact and, if so, for what purpose—to feed your pride, to make you feel valued, to give you special status in God’s Kingdom?

Or do you desire His glory?  Do you desire greater intimacy with God?
Do you long to see?

That’s what blind Bartimaeus wanted.  Just verses after Jesus’s motivational chat with James and John, Jesus met this blind beggar.

When he heard that Jesus was in town, Bartimaeus cried out loudly in desperation.  He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

Have mercy!  That means, “I know I don’t deserve anything from You, but I ask because You are compassionate.”

Daniel prayed in this same way when he said, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy” (Daniel 9:18).

From the beginning, Bartimaeus’s request was different than the Zebedee brothers, who asked for status in heaven because they felt their earthly service merited it.

But Bartimaeus knew we don’t earn God’s gifts to us.

So the blind man screamed out for Jesus’s attention and Jesus, hearing his cries, called Bartimaeus over.  Then He asked the question: What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:51).

What was it Bartimaeous wanted?  A place in Jesus’ kingdom?  A seat near the throne in heaven?  A place in Jesus’ inner circle here on earth now?

No.  “The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.” (Mark 10:51).

Immediately, Jesus healed him because of his faith. Then Bartimaeus did the only thing possible when Christ delivers you; he followed Jesus down the road.

What do you want God to do for you?  How painful this question can truly be when we allow Him to weigh our motives, revealing the impurities there.

Are we seeking God’s glory in all things?  Are we longing and searching to see God in every situation?  Or are we out for ourselves, for what we think we need, for what will fulfill us, for what will make us happy, and for what will satisfy our pride?

What’s your motivation?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King