The Park family was driving home from church on a summer day in 2001 and the four kids in the back were having a noisy dispute over the preferred seats. Ginny’s patience reached its limits: “Stop the car Kevin! Now! We need to have a family meeting right here!” Kevin pulled into a roadside park they were passing and ordered the kids to sit around one of the picnic tables. There was instant uproar: “It’s not fair!” “Why do we have to have a family meeting?” “We always get yelled at!” Kevin shushed them, reminded that this family was not a democracy, and then surprised everyone by calmly asking: “Karla, what can you tell us about Mercy and Grace?” Kevin had been teaching his daughter a concept he had heard on a Christian radio program, and was delighted when she responded: “Mercy and Grace are the two sides of the same coin: Mercy is when God spares you what you deserve. Grace is when God gives you what you don’t deserve,”
“Wonderful!” said Kevin, “and what do you think a coin like that would look like?” The kids were quickly engrossed in sketching their concept on some scrap paper, and Kevin was so impressed by the result that he decided to have actual coins manufactured to their design – with the dream that everyone in the world should have one! That dream hasn’t yet been realized, but tens of thousands of the coins have been given away by Kevin and his friends to people on every continent of the globe (and yes, even carried to Antarctica)! See www.hiscoin.com for Kevin’s own story.
For those of us who have grown up Christian, we may have become so used to the routines of the church that we have become desensitized to the incredible Good News that lies at the heart of our faith – the earth-shaking message of God’s Mercy and Grace! These are the two sides of God’s own loving nature that have been revealed to us in Jesus Christ and that are the only hope for a truly fulfilling life, both now and in eternity.
One reason we take such delight in small children is because in their naïve innocence we see the hopefulness that our own lives have lost – they have not yet learned that life is cruel, that dreams crumble, and that every human story ends in death. Most painful of all is the realization that we ourselves cannot be what our hearts tell us we were intended to be. The toddler’s beaming delight in learning the skills of life is replaced by the cynical certainty of failure and futility.
Our world knows the pain of the problem, but the cures that it offers never work because they don’t address the true problem of our own brokenness. (https://teamfishhooks.com/broken/). Ultimately, all of the world’s ‘solutions’ involve settling for less – of learning to ignore the heart’s longing for something we can never quite grasp and settling for what pleasure we can seize. But try as we might to obscure it, the deep pain of our own failures and the regret of our unrealized dreams remain unhealed as life trudges surely to the grave.
Into this dark void of despair, the Mercy and Grace of God burst like a sunbeam into a crypt! It is not God’s will that we should live in guilt and resignation, but joy! In His Mercy, all of our failures have been wiped away by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. And in His Amazing Grace He showers us with the gifts of our deepest longings: through Baptism we begin a new life in His Spirit by which our hearts are daily transformed into the wholeness for which we were intended.
In receiving the gift of this coin, we want YOU to be reminded that Mercy and Grace are God’s free gifts to lift the burden of what we have actually been and to transform us into what we were meant to be! And may this coin also be a reminder that the story of God’s Mercy and Grace is the incredible Good News that needs to be heard by everyone we meet.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)