I visited an elder blind brother and his wife at one of our city’s retirement centers this afternoon. I read the Psalms for the day (13,43,73,103,133) with them. The Spirit visited us with sweet fellowship in His Word in Psalm 103.
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him...the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them” (103:11-13,17,18).
Such precious promises! Even the ability to know His commands in His Word and obey them is grace, for Christ has removed the barrier of the accounting of our sin between us and our heavenly Father. It is a blessing to know and obey such a beautiful and wonderful Savior-God (my brother’s favorite hymn is “How Great Thou Art”).
We read about God’s gracious forgiveness and love in the covenant relationship He has with His people in Christ: “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (103:8-10).
This reminded both of us – at the same time – of a dear brother who died several years ago. If you ever asked him how he was doing, he would say in a raspy voice, “He’s good to me...far better than I deserve.”
“For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer” (103:14-16).
I told my brother about how, at the beginning of last year, I’d gone to the cemetery here in town and read 1 Corinthians 15 (Paul’s teaching on the resurrection of those asleep in Christ) over the graves of those I’d buried there (including the brother about whom we’d just reminisced). Reading about the resurrection there prepared my heart for that pre-Resurrection Day sermon series in a deep - and heartbreaking - way. “Someday,” I said. My brother nodded, a tear rolling down his cheek and my cheek. "I'm glad you did that," he said.
Some moments are too bittersweet, too potent to leave unwritten. I love the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in His Word among the covenant people of God, either in a classroom...or a retirement center room. He is good to us. Far better than we deserve.