I was sitting in my dorm room at the University of Arkansas reading Romans 9. I got to Romans 9:16, and it says, “it does not therefore depend on man's effort or desire, but on God's mercy.” After growing up in the church and priding myself in being the best and most passionate follower of God's law, that verse struck me. I'm sure I had read it before and I’m sure I thought I understood the concept of salvation by grace, but the idea that my salvation and inclusion in the Kingdom of God did not depend on my effort, felt earth shattering in that moment. It didn’t even depend on my desire? My salvation depended only on God's mercy…?
Am I really just a recipient of mercy? If this is true, then I've missed it. If that’s true, I think I’ve grown up in the church and missed the gospel. I think I've believed that I am actually good enough for heaven without the cross. I knew I sinned, but my good deeds and desire to follow God surely outweighed that, right?
As I sat there and processed all that that verse meant, the mercy of God flowed into my tiny dorm room and I encountered grace for the first time. I had lived under God's law for 19 years and somehow missed mercy. In that moment, the recognition that my sin was just as egregious to God as anyone else's was welcome to me because I could see what followed - mercy. So much mercy.
“He saved us. Not because of the righteous things we have done.
But because of his mercy.”