I am having some deja-vu conversations with my pre-teen daughters about what makes a girl popular in elementary and middle school. They are struggling to find their place in the unseen, but very real, pecking order that exists in the heirarchy of who is cool and who is not. I pray for them to make the right decisions and hold on to what they are wrestling with God as the truth - that real beauty is on the inside. That seems to offer little comfort at times and is a wrestling match I know all too well.
I knew early on that I was not one of those cool people. It was my hope to be friends with the cool people. Maybe some of their coolness would rub off on me. Maybe others looking at me would think I was okay because of the people that I hung out with. I knew I wasn't the prettiest girl or the brainiest. Organization was not my strong point and the thought of the public speaking I would be forced to make if I ran for student government made waves of nausea wash over me. One thing I did have was my squeaky clean self-righteousness. I was known as being the good Christian girl who didn't smoke, drink, cuss, or compromise. Thinking I had found my niche, I settled in to be the best Christian girl I could be.
It worked for me in high school. Not so much in college. I lost my identity because I started to compromise. At first, they were "little" compromises. Then big ones. And Satan screamed at me that I had blown it forever, that God could never use me, that if people only knew what I had done, I would forever be ostracized.
And so I did what I believed I had to do to survive. I lived a lie. For years I pretended I was seeking after God. But really, I was sinking in the shame of my sin living from one spiritual high to the next dark pit. The rollercoaster was awful. I wanted to get off. And the enemy of my soul convinced me that my righteous Judge was just waiting to zap me. That His angry eyes were on me. That I could never return. Or if I did, I would forever bear the shame.
I didn't know about the mercy seat.
Not a huge reader of the Old Testament on purpose, I skipped over the incredibly boring (at least at that time) details of the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant. Who cares what it was made out of and how many cubits long or wide it was, I thought. Give me a psalm any day over the tedious details of Old Testament law.
Only the high priest of Israel was allowed to go behind the heavy curtain that separated him from the Holy of holies and only once a year to ask for the atonement for the sins of himself and his people. The atonement cover on which the golden cherubim rested was the mercy seat. God would grant mercy and forgiveness for His people for another year until the high priest entered the Holy of holies again.
That all changed when God became a Man in the form of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the mercy seat. And He beckons me to come boldly before the throne of grace to receive mercy in my time of need. He is a righteous Judge, but His mercy triumphs over judgment when we throw ourselves before the mercy seat.
One day, out of my utter desperation, I went running to the mercy seat. I confessed what I had been doing. I gave to the Lord and asked Him if He could still use me. His Word told me that I had been believing a lie and that mercy was there in abundance for me. Sin is tantalizing for a season...a very short season. But nothing can compare to the freedom I have found in living a life of obedience to Jesus Christ. There is no other way to live.
I will sin until the day I die. I need to run to the mercy seat over and over again. It is not a one-time deal. And even if it has been so long since I have been there, I can come boldly before Him and find mercy that triumphs over my sin.
What are you struggling with, my dear friend? What has Satan convinced you that you have done that is beyond the mercy of Jesus and His forgiveness? There is nothing that is unforgivable at the mercy seat when we throw ourselves before Jesus and confess what we are involved in. Are you in a relationship with someone else that is addictive and you know that is not in accordance with Scripture? Maybe it's another form of addiction - pornography, alcoholism, an eating disorder, meth or drug abuse, cutting yourself, or stealing. Repenting is the key to freedom!
There is nothing beyond forgiving. There is nothing beyond the healing of the mercy seat!
Don't walk - run to the mercy seat! Jesus is waiting there for us!
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)