{from mud to mercy}

Today I knelt by a black plastic horse trough filled with grace from a garden hose.

This one whom I had just met a few months ago came toward me. Her loose fitting jump suit not fitting an occasion such as this, but it is the only garment she has. No robe of white for her baptism. No heated baptistery. Just a striped jump suit, cold water, and grace.

And these hands. These hands of mine that have stolen and cheated. These hands that have been perverse and vile and violent. These hands on hers…

This mouth that once denied God. Words that once cursed, lied, slandered. Words that cut to the quick and then exploded with a death blow. Now a flow of love from the mercy seat…

“Jesus loves you so much, my friend. He loves you with everything…”

Tears streaming down her cheeks and mine. This is not how we picture grace. Our hearts grow cynical. Names in the paper become faceless statistics.  

But those names have stories.

And for this one, her story just collided headlong into grace. And it is being rewritten.

“Are you ready, sister? Are you ready to follow Jesus with your entire heart, and mind, and soul?”

Tears become sobs… and “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” comes tumbling out of a spirit that is desperate for a Savior. Desperate for the promise of a hope and a future. Desperate for HIM.

And then from the same mouth that once denied Him… “I now baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father… and of the Son… and of the Holy Spirit”.

And hands that were once stained with sin follow her as she kneels forward. All in.

All in.

Face forward into grace.

Water from a hose become a symbol of union with Him. Union in death, and union in New Life.

Water turned grace in the wash bay of a jail gushing over the sides of a black horse trough… I feel it’s cool on my hands and up my arms… splashing feet that had once taken the path of the prodigal… soaking the hem of my skirt. The hem of my garment.

An anointing like no other. An anointing of grace I have never known. An anointing of grace I would never have dared to dream about or imagine when my own desperate sobs cried out to Him in my sin.

That He could use a wretch like me. That He could use hands that have done such harm. That He could use a mouth that has wounded so many… as an instrument of grace.

He found me in the mud. He found me in a pig sty of my own making after I had demanded my inheritance and ran off to the far country. He let me get to the end of myself… He knew I had to… or I would never see my own desperate need for Him.

He watched as I went my own way. He wept as I made wrong choices. He hurt as I denied Him.

And somewhere in that mess… somewhere in that darkness… He declared “THAT ONE… bring her to me”… and sending His Son right into the center of my messy heart, He did just that. He sought me… He rescued me… He sent people to love me right where I was at. People who spoke grace and lived love and stirred a desire in me for more.

And now, my hands on the back of one who had just arrived to the end of herself.  My heart overflowing with His love for her.

As she steps from the water, overcome by His love, another comes.

And another.

And another.

Seven times I kneel by that beautiful baptistery.

Seven times He issues an invitation to love and mercy and grace.

Seven times His Bride says “yes”.

Seven times hearts are overwhelmed and tears fall and forgiveness is received and lives are reconciled.

Seven times His grace covers His Beloved.

Seven times striped jump suits are traded for robes of righteousness.

Seven times it splashes over the sides of a horse trough that could not contain it.  

And I am undone.

From mud to mercy. If ever those words were ever true of my story, they were true today. 

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