His eyes were piercing. As we sat down, he began to tell me his story —of growing up in a small town in east Texas, of doing meth, dealing meth, of living life in the darkness of racism that hung as a heavy shadow over his Aryan community.
He didn’t want change at first, didn’t know what change was, what hope was, what mercy felt like in this savage world of survival. With a dad nowhere to be found, there was a hole so big in his heart that was longing to be filled. All he wanted was to be accepted, wanted, loved. Don’t we all?
That’s when Mercy called. When he was at his lowest, fighting a bacteria from some bad drugs that had left his arm wide open and perhaps his heart wide open, too —that’s when someone reached out and asked Donovan if he was ready, if he had had enough? Backed into a corner with few options, he said ‘yes,’ he left behind his son and his mom, and showed up at the front steps of this new season, new life.
Salvador’s journey led him to a courtroom with 17 years in prison staring him in the face. No one was on his side, it seemed. No one except Mercy. Sitting in the courtroom, hearing the judge read off the harshest sentences one by one to those before him, hope began to fade.
Even his probation officer spoke against him. Yet God stepped in and the house called Mercy became his home. He left behind his family and his kids, too. He walked away from the streets, the dealing, everything he thought he needed to live, to discover the One he couldn’t live without.
He had heard about this person called Jesus in jail, began thinking about Him, reading about Him, until the day came when he embraced Him with his whole heart.
Jamie was the oldest of these Mercy House guys. At 36 years old, he had a wife, kids, faith —and an addiction that destroyed everything he thought he had built. Having already been in two prior Christian men’s programs, this was his last hope.
And Mercy, just as steady as a rock, reached out and claimed him as its own. Pouring into him new life, new skills, an entirely new way of dealing with his thoughts and emotions, Jamie began to embrace his faith and his brokenness differently than he had ever done before.
Mark came from a different world, a different state, a different life. His was not a story of poverty, of abandonment, yet the addiction that held him captive for years was no less powerful.
Little by little God began to speak to him about this place called Mercy. He resisted, he ran as far as he could, he pushed back against the notion of help. And then the day came when he relented. Gave in. Gave up everything to make his way to this new place, this new home, with new hope for a new future.
Though each of our stories may be different than Donovan’s, Salvador’s, Jamie’s, or Mark’s, though we may never have been held captive by addiction like these men, we were each in our own broken story, writing the lines of our own addictions, our own wounds, our own depravity.
We will all have to choose to either live in our brokenness or grab hold of God’s mercy and let it transform us totally, completely.
This is the first work of God—that He is merciful to all who are ready to do without their own opinion, right, wisdom, and all spiritual goods, and willing to be poor in spirit.– Martin Luther
Brokenness will always lead us to despair, but Hope will always be calling, and Mercy will always know us by name.
There are three lessons I learned from my visit with the Mercy House men that remain true for each of us on our spiritual journeys.
It is never too late to be rescued by Mercy.
We say, No, not me. I’m good.
You’re not. We’re not. We are all broken. We all need a life-altering encounter with the person of Jesus. We need to be rescued from ourselves —our sin, our diseases.
As the foundation for God’s Covenant, mercy then comes to be seen as, the quality in God that directs him to forge a relationship with people who absolutely do not deserve to be in relationship with him. Mercy is manifested in God’s activity on behalf of his people to free them from slavery.
Several Hebrew words are associated with God’s mercy. Kapporeth – means ransom, propitiation, or mercy seat. Racham – means to love, to have compassion, or to show mercy. Chesed – means goodness, kindness, mercifulness, or loving-kindness.
Mercy is the gift from a compassionate, loving, good God that pays the ransom and removes the consequences that we deserve, giving us a new beginning, a new chance, a brand new life.
1 Peter 2:10 (NIV) tells us, Once you were not a people; but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
James 5:11 (NIV) shares,As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
Titus 3:5 (NIV) declares, He saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.
No matter where you are, what your addiction is —to alcohol, to drugs, to food, to perfection, to people, to things— it is never too late to be rescued by God’s mercy.
Call out. Reach out. God will meet you right where you are and will rescue you from everything that hangs as a noose around your neck and threatens to crack beneath you and destroy your life. He will save you. He is the Savior of the world. Of me, of you. Trust Him.
When Mercy calls, it will change your life and change your name.
Where we each were once called by our sin, our shame.
We were called:
But God’s mercy changes us from the inside out, gives us a new chance, a new future, a new name.
Mercy sees us and calls us:
By what name do you call yourself? In what kind of environment do you reside? Do you reside with shame and allow it to define your heart and your future? Or do you live in a house called Mercy, filled with compassion and kindness? Do you let Mercy Himself define your identity and direct your steps?
Your name is your identity. Declare your identity as the Beloved. Cling to it. Allow it to seep into every cell of your being and keep you close to the Father. You are His child. Your position in His family is secure. Nothing and no one can change that one fact.Your name is your identity. Declare your identity as the Beloved. Cling to it. Allow it to seep into every cell of your being and keep you close to the Father. You are His child. Your position in His family is secure.Click To Tweet
Isaiah 62:2 (NIV) tells us, The nations will see vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
What is your new name? What do you need to call yourself? Begin calling yourself that today. Begin claiming it as your own. It will shape your future and awaken God’s destiny for your life.
There comes a time when we have to step out and live Mercy.
We all have times and seasons where God draws us to Himself for a time of healing, believing, growing, and dreaming. We love this house called Mercy. We love its safety and its peace. It reminds us how God never gave up on us. How He filled us with His grace and mercy.
And it is His mercy that we must now live. There always comes a time when we must leave this place and learn how to carry His mercy with us deep in our souls as we enter a new season with God.
Tucking the Gospel of Jesus in our hearts, we begin to extend that same love and mercy to those around us. We must move into our lives, our homes, our relationships, our workplace, and bring His mercy with us. Speak mercy. Pray mercy. Live mercy.
We are not as we once were. We are no longer blind, our faith no longer tender shoots that bend and sway with the wind.
We are maturing, growing stronger, steadier by the day.
We will stagnate if we stay. We must step out and live Mercy.
God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us. If we hold fast to mercy, if we stay close to His side, abiding in His love, He will bring His will to pass in our lives. We will be pouring mercy into other people’s lives. We will find our purpose. We will be living our destiny.God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us. If we hold fast to mercy, if we stay close to His side, abiding in His love, He will bring His will to pass in our lives. We will be pouring mercy into other people’s lives. We will find our purpose. We will be living our destiny.Click To Tweet
I Thess 5:24 (NIV)tells us, The One who called you is faithful and He will do it.
Do you trust Him enough to follow Him? Do you believe He has brought you this far?
Why then, would He bring you this far just to abandon you, or forsake you? The answer is —He wouldn’t.
My encounter with a house called Mercy was stunning, compassion-stirring, captivating. I did not walk away unchanged.
What will you do with Mercy? Will you let it overwhelm you, stir you, captivate you? Above all, please don’t walk away from God’s mercy unchanged. Let His mercy rescue you, let mercy give you a new name, let it transform you so that you can give it away in every situation and every circumstance.
One step at a time. One person at a time.
I want to ask each one of my readers, Will you take one of the names of the men listed in this post and will you write it down and commit to pray for them? Will you participate in the work that God is doing in their lives?
Men of Mercy House Video
If you or a loved one who struggles with addiction, please reach out!
About This Community
Don’t we all want a little peace? My heart for this community is to provide just that – a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships. Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my new book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
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