embrace: accepting God’s unconditional mercy, love and grace

I watch, aghast, as scenes unfurl before my eyes. It’s not a pretty sight. I don’t want to embrace this. I long to turn away because I barely recognise the woman I have become.

Life isn’t much fun when the cinema screen of your mind replays events of the last few days—at least not when it’s showing a lengthy, high-definition spool of negativity directed toward yourself.

Instead of staying hidden in my thoughts, the darkness in me had shifted to my talk. I was majoring in self-criticism, not liking the person I saw in the mirror or the life God has given her.

Gratitude had given way to grumbling. I’d forgotten to give myself the same compassion, kindness, understanding and grace I extend toward others. Have you been there? Do you ever catch yourself like this? 

We can forget how much God has forgiven us and how lavish is His love Click To Tweet

Sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge our dark side, because it makes us curl away in despair. We can forget how much God has forgiven us and how lavish is His unconditional love.

We can only comprehend why Christ died for us when we accept the darkness within and our need of healing, of rescue and saving.

The darkness within and without is intended to encourage us to seek for the Light of Christ, to long for the solace, hope and joy which only God can give us.

We can only comprehend why Christ died for us when we accept our need of healing Click To Tweet

Embracing the darkness

I don’t want to embrace my dark side

I’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist, sweep

it out of sight, out of mind, hide it under

 a carpet of concealment because ignorance

is purported to be bliss…

or is it really?

It’s impossible to live a half-life

where secrets and shame mingle merrily

with guilt and pain—though on the surface it seems

that nothing can perturb us…

but that’s just a lie

We’re rattled, unsettled within, stained by sin

afraid to let God’s light in, though it seeks

admittance—his laser-light of Love wants to embrace

us, consume our darkness…

with a holy hug and kiss

Christ’s embrace looks like arms flung wide, hung

on a cross, skin scarred, marred and pierced

as his blood pours out from every wounded place

It looks like mercy, forgiveness, unconditional

love, and grace flowing freely…

we can only yield—receive


Come join this Saturday sluggard as she shares her belated, poetic #FMF words on our gracious host, Kate Motaung’s, site. Just click here to read the great variety of posts being shared.

The darkness within and without is intended to encourage us to seek for the Light of Christ Click To Tweet

24 thoughts on “embrace: accepting God’s unconditional mercy, love and grace”

  1. I’m so glad that Christ embraces us in all our messiness. His arms are open wide full of love, mercy, forgiveness, grace and whatever else we need. Love your poem, Joy! I haven’t got a Five Minute Friday post, but I have another poem I’ve been working on that I’ll post soon. I tried to lead into it with a five minute writing on the word embrace, but I couldn’t make it fit. 🙂 I may try again, but probably not.

    Blessings to you, my dear Joy – poet/sister/friend. Love and hugs! xoxo

    1. Oh me too, Gayl! If we had to clean up our act before being accepted by God, then it would feel like a very heavy (impossible) burden indeed. I love the poem you managed to write today and the way you framed it with such beautiful calming images and contemplative suggestions. It really does pay to pray, pause and ponder our way through the day! 🙂 When we rush heedlessly or fill each moment with activity, then we don’t allow ourselves to breathe, provide time for soul rest and attentive listening, or recognition of all the good things already before us in the present moment. Your words helped me to pause and calm. Thank you! Every blessing for a gently creative, contemplative weekend, my friend! Love and hugs to you. xoxo

  2. Sooo true! Christ’s embrace is his arms wide open on the cross. Thank you for that visual reminder. I will store it for those bleak times when depression rears it’s ugly head.

    1. Joy, I loved the way you described embracing God in your FMF post on the blog. It really is a conscious choice we need to make. I feel for you having bleak times, because they tend to frequent me too. May you find soul solace in thinking of Christ’s arms being ever open to you, embracing you just as you are and offering you infinite, unconditional mercy and love. Praying for you, my friend. xo

    1. Yes, that thought crossed my mind too, Tara. God’s light in the darkness lingers far longer than Christmas. This Lenten pathway reminds us greatly of Christ’s huge sacrifice on the cross and the glorious resurrection victory secured for us. I really enjoyed your post and admire the way you have built such a welcoming community on your blog. You have a great gift of communication and connection. Bless you, friend! 🙂 xo

  3. Dear Joy,
    Oh, yes, how I know that reluctance to look at my dark side! But, what a wondrous Lord we have, and the sweet embrace He offers us,

    “it looks like mercy, forgiveness, unconditional
    love, and grace flowing freely…”

    Thank you for these beautiful and vulnerable words today, Dear Friend! Especially during this Lenten Season, what a beautiful way to look at His embrace, given to us on the cross, arms flung wide. You have given something to continue to ponder, certainly. Love and Blessings to you! xoxo

    1. You, too, Bettie? I’m glad I’m not alone! Your reminder of “what a wondrous Lord we have, and the sweet embrace He offers us” is very welcome, and a key thing to bear in mind when dark times trouble us. Sometimes we get surprised (as well as deeply ashamed) by our own bad behaviour and forget that nothing about us is a secret for our Saviour! It’s actually a freeing thought, hard as it can be to turn to Him when we feel wretched. Maybe it’s a human tendency from Eden to want to hide away from God? Thank you for always seeing good things in these offerings. Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear friend! xoxo

  4. I agree, it is so much easier to extend grace to others than to ourselves sometimes. It is important to acknowledge the darkness so that we can bring it into the light and receive healing. I love how your poem expresses Jesus’ embrace on the cross, and it made me smile that we both used the same image for our FMF posts this week!

    1. I know, Lesley, forgiving ourselves can be such a struggle sometimes, can’t it? We so often drown in our sorrows for a while before remembering to come to God with them. He already knows everything about us, after all, but how easily we forget that fact! Thank you for letting me know you can relate to this post. It made me smile as well when I saw we shared the same good taste in images! I loved the idea of those outstretched arms suggesting a need to connect and be embraced. Your post was very inspiring and interesting. It’s good to hear how God has led you through this last year and confirmed His will to you regarding the new church plant. Have a blessed weekend, my friend! 🙂 xo

    1. Dear June, I am delighted to have been given words that have blessed you, my friend! It’s been a busier weekend than usual due to celebrating Mothers Day in the UK. I’ve felt so loved and appreciated by my family, and got to chat to our grandson via Skype this afternoon, which is a real treat! Hope you’ve had a great weekend, full of blessings and good things. Love and hugs. xo

    1. Andrew, truth telling is very much where I’m at on this blog and I know that’s definitely true of your site as well. It seems I’ve struck a chord with my words! If you are a fool in any way, then I think you could be a holy fool, full of grace, full of love and too close to God to worry about what people think of you. I see a wise man whenever I read your words. Yes, it may be wisdom honed in the furnace of affliction but that only serves to give it an edge of authenticity others can easily relate to. There’s a sense of awe and wonder that comes over me when I read your posts and this week’s is no exception. God breathes through every line, even the hard, raw and often harrowing situations you share. Blessed to share space with you in the FMF link up and blogosphere in general. Blessings and prayers to you and yours. <3

  5. Joy, thank you so much for this precious encouragement. I’ve been journeying through this exact same thing the last two weeks. God slowed me right down to try and get me to listen, but at first I wanted none of it: the conviction stung and so I fought it, not truly understanding what I was doing, until I asked friends to pray for me with an important decision looming. All three gave back similar visions that showed me my desire to belong and receive recognition was turning me away from the path of seclusion and quietness God was leading me down. These visions showed me the blessing God has planned through setting me apart: when all I saw was rejection in being called apart.

    I didn’t want to admit the darkness of jealousy, of self-righteousness and pride. But thankfully we serve a God who pursues our hearts huh?! What a gift these lessons are huh?! I’ve also learnt what a precious gift godly friendships are, the gifts awaiting us in leaning into the Body of Christ.

    BTW love that quote you posted in your first image: such truth. My devotional today is on thankfulness.

    1. Guess what was part of my reading today: Luke 7:23 And tell him [John the Baptist], “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me [or who are not offended because of me]” and Deuteronomy 6:5- my One Year Bible study pointing out: “God is not interested in forced religious exercise and rule-keeping. He wants our hearts and lives completely dedicated to him. After we love him, obedience will follow.” So true and how easily I turn away and seek after that which my God is already holding out to me- if only I’d accept my lack to receive His wholeness.

      1. Oh yes, “He wants our hearts and lives completely dedicated to Him”, so true! It’s painful for us to see and accept our lack, so self-reliant are we by nature. Yet the greater the dependency, the more broken we are and the more we turn to God for wholeness, the better He can refresh, renew and restore us. I love how God is speaking so plainly to you from His word. It’s a beautiful grace gift to savour. Thank you for letting me know how this journey is affecting you. Hang in there. my friend. No-one who leans hard on the Lord will come to harm. Rather, we learn to better accept and receive His love and rest more in being His beloved one. Thinking of you, Anna. Do drop me a line if you have any specific prayer requests, okay? xo

    2. Anna, I have been down this pathway too: “my desire to belong and receive recognition was turning me away from the path of seclusion and quietness God was leading me down” and found it just as hard to yield at times. It can feel more like rejection than a holy invitation. We so long for connection and crave intimacy, barely recognising we have such things in droves with God, any time we want to. Amen to these words: “thankfully we serve a God who pursues our hearts huh?!” It can take a while for us to feel grateful for what looks (on the surface at least) like being sidelined. I admire your honest sharing here, my friend, and it’s good to hear from you again! Blessings, love and hugs to you. Keeping you in my prayers. This season will bear fruit for you, and for those you share your thoughts with, in due time. xo <3

    1. Hi Janis, it’s lovely to see you here! Thankfully, we tardy ones can rest in knowing a full week is allowed in which to weave our FMF words. I loved your post and it’s positive message. Have a blessed week, my friend! 🙂 x

  6. Thank you for this gift of recognition and reflection. I see myself so clearly in your words. Your honesty and kindness is a balm. Gentlest Blessings to you, Joy. <3

    1. Cheryl Anne, it’s an honour and a joy to see you here, my friend! Thank you for your kind encouragement. I’m so grateful to have been given words that speak to you, especially when I always find a gem to ponder on whenever I stop by your site. I hadn’t known of your own physical ailments until we connected on Facebook. So much of people’s lives and suffering lies hidden beneath the surface, though the words on your blog suggest a woman who goes deep with God and with others. But I am glad to be able to befriend and pray for you now. Blessings, love and gentle hugs to you! 🙂 xo

      1. Thank you, and bless you for your prayers Joy. I was involved in a minor car accident Sunday evening and my body is not the least bit happy about that, so prayers are very helpful right now! Thankfully no serious injuries for anyone, and minimal damage to vehicles. Love and prayers for you also! <3

        1. Oh no, how awful for you! Praise God for it being minor rather than major. Praying for God to touch you with His healing power in every place it hurts. May your soul be quietened with His love and anchored in His peace. May you suffer no lasting damage and recover quickly from the traumatic effects on your already weakened, pain filled body. Thinking of you, dear friend. Take care and be gentle with yourself. Love and prayers. xo <3

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