I recently heard a story during one of our Sunday services that the Spirit of God has been bringing back to me again and again.
The story was about a young man who had committed the crime of desertion from Napoleon’s army for which he received a sentence of death. His distraught mother went before Napoleon and begged for mercy for her only son. He said to her,
“Your son does not deserve mercy.”
The mother replied,
“If he deserved mercy he would not be in need of it.”
When Napoleon heard this he was moved with compassion and showed her mercy by pardoning her son and returning him to his mother.
Mercy is what is shown to one who deserves judgement; it is completely unmerited by the recipient. Mercy flows out of a place of compassion and unconditional love toward the guilty and the condemned. Grace, on the other hand, is unmerited favor. It is what brings forgiveness and provides salvation to the one who cries out in repentance.
In the story that I shared above, the son didn’t cry out for mercy; his mother did. Since hearing this story I have heard the Lord ask me again and again to “Shout for mercy!” over the prodigals.
My husband and I have four beautiful children; our oldest daughter we adopted when she was a year old. Her adoption was the most radical miracle I’ve ever personally witnessed. The day that we brought this beautiful baby home was the best day of my life. I remember sitting in the back seat of our car with her sleeping next to me in her car seat. I touched her little hands and toes and wept in awe of this gift that God had delivered into our hands. She was perfect and she was ours…she was a desire and promise fulfilled for us.
When she became an older teen we watched the enemy bring an assignment upon her life to steal her away. For the past decade she has lived as a prodigal in a life that is so much less than God’s plans for her and our dreams for her. Although all of our other children are walking strong in the Lord, our hearts live with a daily ache to see our “promise baby” return to the Lord (we know that she will!).
As the mom of a prodigal, this exhortation to “shout for mercy” for the prodigals and the story of the mom begging the judge for mercy for her son, has deeply stirred my heart. I find myself driving in my car shouting “Mercy” over her and “Mercy” over all the prodigal sons and daughters. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, I am always watching down the road for our daughter to return home. I will run to her when she does.
Though these prodigals are not crying out for mercy, their moms can cry out for them. There is a judge in heaven who is full of mercy and full of compassion. Go before the mercy seat of God and plead mercy for your prodigal child or loved one. In Exodus 25:22 God makes a promise regarding the mercy seat saying,
“There I will meet with you.”
In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was sprinkled with blood when the priest came before it. It had two gold cherubim on either side of it and it was the place where God’s presence rested. When Jesus rose from the dead, there were two angels dressed in white at the head and foot of where the blood stained body of Jesus had laid. It was a perfect picture of the mercy seat.
You are invited to go before the mercy seat of God, where He will meet with you, and ask for the blood of Jesus to come upon your prodigal and mercy to be declared over their lives.
Shout mercy! Mothers…shout mercy! Wives…shout mercy! The Merciful One is saying, “Shout Mercy”! There is an agreement between your shout and His compassion that will bring the breakthrough. Don’t stop!
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
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