She didn’t fear him like the others did. There was a curiosity in her. A mezmerizing view of seeing that forgave the abrasiveness she heard. Because she saw something else. Angelic and pure residing deep within him. It was a light breaking through the cracks of a desert wash where the river used to flow. It wasn’t dry. Just missing something that it used to have. When the headwaters rushed into the waterfall dripping with morning dew. Wildflowers floating down the river for a slide into the oasis beneath. Love needs a place to land doesn’t it. Without it, the ground starts to shrivel. But God saw…
She saw him different than the others did. They loved him. Revered him. Applauded him. But not for the crevices she saw in the secret hollows where his soul was naked. She saw that part of him. The wounded part of him. The needy part of him. The vulnerable part of him. The broken part of him that beckoned her closer even when his sword was still drawn. Strike! She didn’t flinch when the sharp edges came out…
I love you… she whispers…
Can you love a killer?
I won’t hurt you… she says…
Can you love a killer?
Feel the shiver of a splinter in your skin when the wood brushes up against you in the forest on fire?
Can you love a killer?
Feel the thriller of the blizzard when the cyclone whirls around you ice piercing in the air?
It’s icy… but she’s fiery.
Coming closer is the foreign sound of a woman who found a reason to try and keep trying. What kind of reason?… Love. And it’s potent. She gets close enough to feel his breathing when the day is done and there’s no more weight left to be carried on his shoulders for the world to keep turning. Breathe in… breathe out…
Don’t get close! They sting you… they say as you watch the jellyfish swirl around the ocean surf. Do they?… I never got stung. Though they told me they would sting me, wrap their tentacles around me, burn me, leave their markings all over me. She knows how to touch them in a way that they don’t want to sting back after a while…
Do you know how to love like that?
I loved him like that.
A lion touched to roar at everything else but me. You don’t have to strip it of its teeth and power. Just teach it how to trust you… by loving it without fearing it. Pure love… that doesn’t give up…
I loved him like that…
I see the fragments of a silhouette standing in the shadows. Still. Smokey nitrogen looming in the moonlight like a cloudy layer of fog on Mount Everest. The pressure is suppossed to rise as you climb higher… but she doesn’t feel it when she’s coming close to him. It’s not safe here… to approach the man who could make the avalanche barrel towards her but she’s walking towards him anyways… as if her love can heal the killer instinct he’s been conditioned to know. It’s not his fault… he was taught this way. Told this way. Birthed this way into a world where fighting back is what a good soldier does. He’s a good soldier. But good soldiers need a rescuer too… from the harm that has befallen them Trauma exposed to them. I used to have a vision when I was little. A man who was a killer, sought to harm me, sought to harm everything around me and had a sword in his hand, but I stood there. Watching him. I’d walk up to him and give him the biggest hug. I knew my hug would change him… heal him… and that the poison given to him would be rid away forever.
Can you love a killer?
You’re not a killer.
Do you know that?
You need to know that…
You’re not a killer.
You’re not a killer
But the vision I used to have represents a killer instinct in all of us that Jesus is meant to touch and transform. Into grace. Into peace. Into mercy. Into healer instinct also residing in all of us.
Foster a healing instinct… nurture love of the highest potency.
Resisting a killer instinct fosters the gift of mercy. And it is a gift indeed… to feel the mercy of God resting on you like a kiss upon the forehead in a tight embrace. It’s a gift. To know you are loved and forgiven no matter what you’ve done or said. It’s a gift. To feel relieved in your heart. No shame. No guilt. Free and light… that is the gift of mercy.
Can you let God give you mercy?
It’s just as hard to receive mercy sometimes, as it is to give it. But Jesus didn’t die to punish Himself and also you for your sins. He died only to punish Himself. And He wants you to be free so you can move forward and become who He intends you to be. Because it ultimately benefits Him to be merciful to you and it benefits everyone else.
Jesus had mercy for a killer in the Bible. A man with a killer instinct but a heart of gold. He would go on to trailblaze the path for Jesus’ eternal life being given to all who wanted it.
We find this story in Acts 9.
“Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus shouts in verse 4.
I hear God saying to someone… Why are you persecuting Me? Why are you angry at Me?
Enough is enough.
God is the very one trying to bless you if you would let Him… Decide to believe that He is for you, instead of fearing He is against you.
God is en route to find you… and He does not want to hurt you…
There comes a point when you have to deal with the emotions you have towards God for what He didn’t do, and you have to choose to follow Him anyways. Trust Him anyways. Let Him be God anyways. Surrender anyways. Even when you don’t have all the answers you hoped you would have.
Then you find that God is enough. Loving and wonderful and satisfying, just Him.
Open your eyes to the beauty of God and you find He’s everything you desired.
What I know from the context of this passage is that Paul didn’t have anger towards God but He had anger towards Christians for the gospel they were proclaiming. It’s heresy! Paul declared as he stood over the stoning of countless Christians professing a salvation in this risen Christ named Jesus. And He didn’t believe in it. He hadn’t gotten this revelation that Jesus was the Messiah. He thought he was upholding the purity of its doctrine. The Torah. The Jewish Law. Little did He know, He was the law breaker. Breaking the covenant of God’s grace given to all who want it free and available. His religious education provided the highest level of Jewish law and thought. He was “A Pharisee of Pharisees.” He knew what God said.
Paul said… “If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more: I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee.” Philippians 3:4-5
Paul sought to live rightly.
He lived according to the exact words and laws given to him as an Israelite. And Jesus saw that… Jesus saw that this man actually really desired to follow Yahweh, he just didn’t yet have a revelation of Jesus as Lord to change his whole faith and show Him that Jesus was real. But he is about to.
Paul wanted the truth.
Paul was incredibly zealous and fervent in His faith.
“In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless.” Philippians 3:6
Paul never did anything wrong according to the Torah…
Paul actually was following everything taught to Him.
That’s why God chose Him…
Verse 15 goes on to say through the voice of the Lord speaking to Ananias, “He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:15
The man with the killer instinct was the God’s chosen instrument.
You’re not a killer.
You are chosen.
You are loved.
You are gifted.
You are anointed for a purpose.
Paul’s behavior against Jesus Christ did not scare Jesus away. Because He saw underneath that, and knew Paul was trying to seek purity of faith. Some may have displayed similary behavior as Paul but did not have the heart underneath that Paul had. That’s why we should never ever base assumptions all on what we see, either way. Because there is a heart underneath that tells the full story. But as believers in Jesus, we gain the gift of the Holy Spirit so we can see into a person with something called “discernment” so that we can see the best in others. We cannot see all of a person’s heart but we can see a lot.
I saw God’s heart in the one I loved.
And so I let him kill me. Why did I let him? Love is blind they say. Is it? I don’t think so. I think love is the clearest vision I could have. Love makes you bold. Courageous. Fearless and braver than ever. Willing to risk your life for the other without restraints. So that losing your life is an honor.
Jesus let them kill him… because He didn’t want to lose them… He knew His love could save them.
Can you love a killer? Jesus did.
Jesus loved Paul so much that He personally pursued him and called him to be His missionary. Because Jesus knew that when Paul finally understood that He really was the Messiah, he would follow with love in return. Jesus knows our hearts and our minds so deeply that what seems like our most broken moments will never define who we are.
At this time, of all the ones who followed Yahweh and studied the Law, Paul sought to be completely devoted to God in His faith even to the point He would rid out the heresy of the so-called new Christians. Right thinking. Wrong revelation. Or rather… a delay of new revelation, that he now needed in order to continue following Yahweh for who He really is. And who He really is… is Jesus Christ. Paul is about to get this revelation for Himself… and then He would finally see that Christianity was true and he would change his whole paradigm of thinking in order to follow this new revelation, the true revelation. The truth of the gospel.
“And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
This passage clearly tells us Paul hears God…
This tells me he already had an intimate relationship with God before this occurence, because when He hears the voice He recognizes it and says His name: Lord. God could speak to Paul because Paul was open to hearing the Lord. Ask the Lord to speak to you… and He will. He wants to.
An intimate relationship with God positions us to hear Him and be corrected by Him when needed.
I want God to always align me with Himself, because He is the ultimate authority. We need His voice. We need His words.
You have to hear Jesus for yourself.
Paul heard the gospel of Jesus Christ preaching but it was only when Jesus spoke to Paul directly that Paul put his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
No one can convince another person that Jesus is the Messiah nor should we. We share who Jesus is, but each person has to encounter God for himself and herself.
Paul encounters Jesus Christ and is forever changed. Relieved… to now follow the correct truth of God’s heart and character, which is that anybody can be saved and never have to be punished for sin nor die but can live with God forever, eternally.
This is the truth of God’s love for us.
And when God recalibrated him with the actual truth, his personality of zeal and determination was then set ablaze with the purpose of preaching the gospel to as many who would hear it. I love this story because it shows how God sees our potential and uses it. He puts us in the right places tailored to who we are and how we are made.
Paul was made for pioneering the Christian faith because He already was a pioneer in the Jewish faith and had that courage. Additionally, his education and mastery of knowledge in the Torah and Jewish faith was perfect for preaching the gospel because he was able to explain salvation in light of the OT way of interacting with God through the Torah.
God uses your experiences and expertise to further His heart being made known in the earth. God wants His people to understand His heart. Because then you can read the Bible and understand who is saying it and how He feels about you. It changes the way you read it.
God is not holding you back from accomplishments and accolades. God gave you those opportunities and abilities.
He didn’t hold Paul back from earning those. He used his expertise. And in doing so, Paul only furthermore discovered Jesus was better. And when we see that Jesus is better, we can use our accomplishments to bless others and not see it as a barometer of worthiness, but rather of showcasing the brilliance God put in us as His imago dei.
We are worthy simply because we belong to God.
Paul belonged to God… and God loved him.
Because you know what…
Paul wasn’t a killer after all.
you’re not a killer
you are the winter
fashioning the diamonds
in the eyes that hold me
like you held me
in the locked garrison
where my love touched you
renewed your Heaven
He was a healer. A purifier. And his purification was just aimed at the wrong object as a Pharisee, thinking that purifiying the Jewish faith meant he needed to kill Christians. Once He encountered God’s radical love and decree of mercy and grace over all people who would come to Him, He willingly receives it. He just needed to know it was the truth.
What truth are you rejecting because your faith tradition teaches otherwise? The Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God will reveal His truth to you just like He did to Paul… let Him speak it to you.
He spoke to you… when the kisses touched a part of your heart that died long ago. He spoke to you… when the words on the page lit the passion again. He spoke to you… when His kindness let you have what you had been missing for quite awhile. And didn’t judge you for it. He paid for it. Forgave you for it. Understood it. He understands you… It’s why He willingly says… I will cover that.
“Love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Love loves to cover you… shield you… protect you… absolve you… redeem you…
Whatever you’ve done… God picks you up and carries you out of it, spotless and pure. No shame. No punishment. No ridicule. Just His embrace. And it’s the embrace that changes you forever.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
love is true
and love is You
He moved you
the ocean’s tune
of seeing who
we are to Him
blessed and loved
God’s love is permanent
So instead, we put to death every thought that stands in the way of your peace and flourishing heart.
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” Colossians 3:8
This reminds me I need to be gracious at all times. When I see a wrongdoing or an issue that needs to be corrected I can only do so with the right heart and an end-goal of mercy not punishment. Punishment attempts to stir shame, but mercy stirs confidence in God and propels you onward to greater things for the Lord.
Mercy is an instinct to heal, not kill. This is the instinct we want to exemplify. We may find that there is honor in no mercy because we should accept what our sins deserve. But that is not the gospel. I’ve had to remind myself this. The gospel says, that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Jesus Christ is the perfect exemplar of mercy.
When we reject mercy, we reject the cross of Jesus. That is a big problem. And if we reject mercy, that means we are still operating according to judgment and that killer instinct which is not what God had in mind for us when He sent Jesus to die.
Mercy empowers people to change without the weight of their mistakes hanging over them. Forgive and give the gift of seeing the best in them. Speak over their potential. Punishment is not a change agent and it’s why Jesus did not choose to punish us as our sins deserve. He wanted us in relationship with Him. So He gives us grace. Grace is the deliverance. A new fresh chance to be better and elevate higher. Change. Grow. Without condemnation. God’s voice will convict you for spiritual growth but He will never condemn you to put you down. Know how to discern the difference. God gives mercy so that we can become the perfection of His own design and image.
We are a sanctified people meant to operate according to a mercy paradigm.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Can you relinquish a killer instinct?
Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” in Matthew 5:46. It’s easy to love the One who shows us God but we must learn how to love the ones who press our buttons too. We must lavish the same love to those who are hard to love as we do to the ones who give us every reason to love.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18
Let go of the killer instinct. Let go of the quarreling instinct. Let go of the judgment instinct.
The Bible says “resist the devil and He will flee from you.” An instinct to kill is a type of devil instinct that we must resist at all costs. It dehumanizes, making a person lose appreciation for life and human dignity. Everything becomes a target if it’s in any way threatening. And it creates a need to retaliate and be defensive rather than understand and empathize.
We were not made to kill.
We are made to love and heal. If we resist the urge to lash out, we find the Spirit of God rising up higher. This doesn’t mean we silence the truth. It means that we say the truth without added malice or rage. We cannot speak on anything if we are emotionally charged. There needs to be time spent with God to understand his heart in the matter and what should be said.
God’s heart is a heart of mercy not death.
“You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In Your love You kept me from the pit of destruction; You have put all my sins behind your back.”
Mercy fosters a healer instinct. And all you want to do is heal everyone and everything around you with the eternal healing agent… God’s very love. So we must rid out every emotion and thought that comes against this goodness.
Can we kill our pride? Anger? Envy? Unbelief? Can you kill your doubt? Hopelessness? Frustration for what went wrong and didn’t get resolved?
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corithians 10:5
Destroy every spirit that rises up in your heart against God’s grace. Silence every dark thought that would try to undermine God’s power to do the impossible. Filter out every word that flows out with condemnation and shame. Those are not from God… and we need to be reminded of that.
Jesus already died to nail your sins to the cross.
“Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for His mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” 2 Samuel 24:14
People may slice you but God won’t… you are His child meant to be whole with Him because He wants you. He has no intention of harming you. We must display this same kind of mercy if we want the world to see the Living God we so believe in. Willing to endure whatever we face so that this virtue of mercy may be displayed and spread contagious.
Mercy showcases the greatest miracle of God. A phenomenon of undeserved forgiveness, given because the Giver is so captivatingly in love with the transgressor. God cannot help but to extend mercy… because it’s the only way He can be with His lover.
A heart with no mercy is a heart that conceals the greatest miracle of God: salvation by death on a cross for the rescue of the whole world. Don’t hide God’s miracle. Let mercy flow out of you… so that the world will experience something they never have.
Can you love a killer?
God did when he loved the ones who nailed him to the cross.
Love just as reckless and unconditionally as Him…
Don’t crucify others for what Jesus already paid.
“Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13
Ruthlessness only brings judgment onto ourselves, for Jesus says if you judge so you also will be judged. Let mercy be the prevailing word. I want to be mercy… so that those who have never received mercy would feel the love of God for them in a way they never have but so deeply need. It’s a beautiful exchange… our humanity and His holiness. Let Him be that for every person and do not take that gift from them.
Jesus said this to the religious rulers of His day in Matthew chapter 9…
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
Mercy is always something we need to learn. We live in a world that seeks to avenge and repay. They need to see a model of another way of living, where it’s possible to rise higher than the base level of humanity’s warring. Then people would discover a purer way of handling friction.
Mercy is something I’m realizing I give very generously to others but not as much to myself. I need both. To show it and to receive it. This can only come from God’s Holy Spirit generating it. How do you learn what mercy is? Spend time with Jesus, the merciful One. Let Him recalibrate you to handle situations with mercy rather than attack. To receive mercy when given instead of expecting to die for what Jesus already covered. We will be shown what we give.
Just earlier in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus taught on this message when he addressed the crowd on the mountainside. He said…
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
Showing mercy is a mark of blessing on you.
Do you want mercy? Be mercy.
There is no mercy without the offering of such extravagance first given from your own heart. You must give it first… so that you know what it feels like to love and pass over someone’s wrongdoing, seeking to restore them instead of condemn them. Then you will understand why it’s a blessing. Because it satisfies your heart when you do so. It frees you from your own sin in the process. Mercy comforts the one being merciful, because it rids out the negative emotions from within.
shown from under
moonlight in the night
became a lover
from the light
of Jesus’ eyes
Mercy is good medicine.
Almost as good as love. And it is love… a form of it. A fruit of it. Where your heart can’t help but to forgive and kiss endlessly upon the face of the one who could have paid but you didn’t want them to. You wanted to cover them. You wanted to heal them. You wanted to soothe them…
He feels it now. Sees it. Hears it… my love… that it’s real… I feel he does. And it’s something unlike anything he’s heard before. Enchanting like an amethyst pure and divine… crystalline edges cover the surface of its gem hidden in the riverbed but it doesn’t cut him. She softens for him when he picks her up. Melts for him. Gives up her power for him and only him. To share it for his rejuvenating.
You’re not a killer. And neither am I. We’re jewels crafted into a diadem of God’s royal crown dazzling bright for Him… His face is on you, in you, with you, upon you. So I know I’ll never have to love a killer.
Because a lover is who you are.❤️
Be the lover you know you are.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Questions for Today:
- How strong is your love?
- Can you love the people who hurt you just as much as the one who loves you?
- Why did Jesus die for the sins of the world?
- How strong was Jesus’ love?
- Why did God choose Paul to preach the gospel although he was persecuting Christians?
- How can salvation and love heal the world?