“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven”
Navy Boot Camp only lasted about three months, but it seemed an eternity. It was tough, challenging, and frightening. Somebody was continually shouting orders and issuing stern warnings about what would happen if you failed at meticulously carrying out your responsibilities.
And there were shots. Lots of them. We received injections for seemingly every disease for which there was a vaccine.
One day we were lined up by the hundreds in single file. Medical corpsmen were armed with compressor guns loaded with multiple vaccines. We were ordered not to move in the slightest when the gun was pressed against our upper arms. Unfortunately, the fellow in front of me flinched when the gun was fired into his arm, and blood rushed from the resulting cut.
After the vaccinations we were sent to a holding barracks. The room was lined with rows of bunk beds with no mattresses. We were told we would probably experience some side effects from the shots. But the order was given “absolutely no one is to lie on a bed!”
When you’re sick, even the springs on a bunk bed can look inviting. As I grew faint and nauseous, I looked at how others were reacting to their predicament. One by one they were giving into the temptation of resting on a bed. It didn’t take long for me to join the crowd and within moments, I was sound asleep.
I was awakened by somebody yelling at me. Groggily, I looked up. Standing over me was an officer. With every ounce of energy I could muster, and there wasn’t much, I stood to my feet, noting that everyone else in the room was already standing at attention.
In our pockets we carried a book of chits. When we did anything wrong, a chit was taken from the book, and then we were required to report to Captains mast. There we would receive the punishment for our misdeed. The officer grabbed the whole book from my pocket and departed the room.
Then came the encouraging words from my military buddies, “Weirich. You’re gonna get it!”
From that day forward, I anxiously awaited my call to Captains mast anticipating that I would pay a very severe penalty. I’m happy to say I never received that call, and there were no repercussions for my failure to follow orders. Somehow I received — mercy.
In today’s selected scripture we read a prophecy regarding John the Baptist. His role was to prepare the way for Jesus, the Christ. “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…” John would herald the arrival of the greatest news ever given to man from God, “… to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God…”
God’s good news is “the knowledge of salvation.” You can confidently know you have been saved from the penalty you deserve for your sin, which is death. How? Through “the forgiveness of their (your) sins.” Why? “… because of the tender mercy of our God.”
God has given many orders that are in our best interest and has high expectations for the way we should conduct ourselves. But when we fail, and we all do, He is faithful to forgive.
Yes, there are consequences for sin. The young man who moved in the vaccination line received a painful cut on his arm. I spent weeks in fear of the consequences for my indiscretion when I chose to sleep on a bed despite an order to the contrary.
God is merciful. Notice the descriptive word “tender.” You, as a child of God, are a recipient of “tender mercy.” The Lord is not a harsh dictator imposing His will on your life. He is a loving Father who wants you to live abundantly. You appropriate the fullness of this life by obedience to Him.
With the salvation package comes eternal forgiveness — for then, for now, and forever. When you are dirtied by sin from daily living, appeal to the “tender mercy” of God. Don’t wait another day to get your abundant life back on track.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Grace and Mercy for Your Time of Need
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.