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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 1:16 pm | Fog/Mist 55º

 
 
 
 
Faith

Jim Langley: Receiving God’s Tender Mercies

The first motion picture I saw after accepting Christ as my Savior and Lord in 1984 was Tender Mercies, starring Robert Duvall in his Academy Award-winning role portraying Mac Sledge, a down-and-out recovering alcoholic country music songwriter/singer.

This was a vulnerable time in my life, having just surrendered my will to Jesus a few weeks earlier. The storyline of the film brought me affirmation that I could truly change, as Duvall’s character had successfully done in the movie.

The idea of a merciful God was something I had never considered before the spring of 1984. Up to this point in my life, I had always considered God to be a Heavenly Being who occasionally watched over my actions and chastened me on occasion as was certainly warranted. I had no concept of His wonderful mercy in those first 40 years of my life.

Universal Pictures made little effort to promote this film — possibly due to the strong Christian message presented in the script. Even without its promotion, the film amazingly garnered five Academy Award nominations and also captured Best Original Screenplay honors for writer Horton Foote.

What I remember most about Duvall’s character was the peace that he portrayed throughout the film. That was something I had only recently come to feel for the first time in my life.

This paradigm shift caused me to realize that I no longer had to perform for recognition and acclamation. All of a sudden it wasn’t about what I did, but only about what Christ did for all mankind on the cross.

In Psalm 103, King David proclaims that God does not treat us as we deserve. As long as we revere Him, He bestows His compassion on us no matter what our disobedience might have been in the past. He only looks at who we are this day forward.

In Luke 1:76-79, Zechariah prophesies the role of his only son John and declares “the tender mercy of God” that “will come to us from Heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

You see, we are all born into a life of natural sin, which means we must face the darkness of this world and cannot fathom the wonderful mercy that God has made available to all mankind.

As the forerunner of the Messiah, John’s message of repentance prepared the world for Jesus’ ensuing three-year ministry.

In Luke 3, we’re informed that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy restated from Isaiah 40:3-5. John’s God-assigned task was to “Prepare the way for the Lord” so “all mankind will see God’s salvation.” Have you come to experience God’s tender mercy?

It’s quite possible to be a regular church attendee and not know Him as He truly is. As a teenager and young adult, I regularly attended a name brand church in Texas and knew the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed and the whole liturgy of the church. In fact, I didn’t even have to open the hymnal at all!

You see, the problem was the contraction of “I Disease” and I had no loving relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was all about me and not about Him and others.

I’m so thankful He finally enlightened me and showed me The Way to His tender mercy. Consider doing the same if He has touched your heart through these words offered humbly for your thoughtful consideration. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die for all mankind!

Passages to Ponder

» Isaiah 40:3-5

» Psalm 103:9-16

» Luke 1:76-79

» Luke 3:4-6

» Romans 9:14-18

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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