My painful past has been the greatest teacher of God’s mercy and grace. When we’ve lived in the horror of our own sin, the pockmarked road of regret we’ve traveled is a painful but effective lesson of God’s compassion, mercy and grace. My selfish choices took me to places I don’t like to remember; but the grace of God, which led me out of that darkness, is something I never want to forget. When I start to judge, belittle or return evil for evil—God reminds me of His grace. You see, I fell down—far, far down–because I’d failed to develop the relationship with Him which would have given me the deep fulfillment which I was seeking in sin. I was satisfied to live in the brittle and cold religiosity of deeds and neglected to search for a heart-satisfying relationship with God. When I was finally broken by my sinful choices, I ran to God. He was the only One Who was still seeking to love me even when I was filthy and disreputable. I surrendered to His love. This was the beginning of my surrender journey. HIS LOVE has drawn me to place Him at the center of all of my desires. My identifiable valleys of deep shame are bookmarked by a mountain of God’s mercy at the place where He gave me grace. This prayer of King David is dear to my heart: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalms 51:1-3) When we have experienced this amazing mercy of God, we see other sinners as what WE were before we were rescued by grace. The closer we are to God, the more we comprehend and assimilate His compassion. His mercy and grace have written our love story!