This quote is creditted to a man by the name ofJohn Bradford , a Protestant who was martyred in England in the 16th century.
On seeingseveral criminals being led into the scaffold he remarked, ‘there but for the grace of God’ goes John Bradford. His words without his name are still very common today.
I originally heard this phrase as a response to learning of someone else’s mistake or sin. It carried the message, “Take care not to point fingers or judge; you have your own struggles with imperfection and sin.”
John Bradford, however, was expressing gratitude for another day alive and the understanding that God was having mercy on him.
It seems that we could apply this both ways in our modern world:
It is true that we need God’s grace to live holy lives.
It is also true that we do well not to judge others or look on their circumstances without compassion and mercy.
What happens to one group of people can happen to another.
I am thinking of the ban on people from countries that are largely Muslim who want to travel to the United States. Brothers and sisters, the Bible says that we will face persecution. We are as vulnerable as Muslims, Iraqis, Sudanese, Syrians and all of the other people who are being denied entry, or even detained. That is why we must stand with them in resisting this injustice.
“There but for the grace of God go I.” Next time, it could be Christians.
Lord, have mercy:
Loving Father, God Most High,
Thank You for Your great compassion.
Thank You for love that transcends every situation.
Thank You for understanding us so well.
Though You have the power to do anything,
Let Your lovingkindness prevail on us and our nation. Amen.
Christ, have mercy:
Anointed One of God, Savior of the world,
Thank You for Your profound sacrifice.
Thank You for redemption and healing.
Thank You for bringing us into the Household of God.
May Your finished work be manifest in our lives. Amen.
Lord, have mercy:
Lord of lords, King of kings,
May Your Kingdom be made known on Earth,
Until every sickness is banished,
Every injury is forgiven and healed,
Death is never seen again. Amen.
To think on whatever is right and just requires that I lay down all need for revenge, getting even, wanting others to be punished or pay for a wrong against me.
To think on right things is to extend forgiveness and mercy without compromising biblical principles.
True justice demands restitution, which has already been paid in full by Jesus.
True revenge happens when Satan loses his hold on yet one more person.
When healing and restoration occur; when God is glorified: This is just and right.
I was 29 when my first repressed memory of abuse came up.
It happened when I was 4, almost 5. We had a teeter-totter swing in the basement. My younger sister and I were playing onit.
My father was also in the basement, working on a wood project. Every time he would run the table saw, we would scream as part of our play.
After a while, my father called me over to him. He picked me up, turned on his power sander and ran it down my arm. It had no sandpaper, which would have severely injured me; it left a rub burn, but mostly frightened me.
He put me down; I ran upstairs to my mother, who was washing dishes. I was crying.
My father followed me, laughing as he came, “I gave Tracy a shave!”
My mother didn’t change her pace or look at me; she just kept washing dishes. “you’re okay,” she said without expression.
I went into the bedroom that I shared with my two sisters and took care of myself.
I could tell plenty of stories like this one. My father was a very wounded man, who often acted in hurtful, cruel ways. My mother often failed to advocate for us or protect us, if she recognized what was going on in the first place. Every adult survivor of abuse knows what I am saying.
Twenty-one years later, Papa God asked me a challenging question. I was sitting in Church, listening to the pastor’s sermon. He told about a time when his brother and he had done something particularly unacceptable. Their father took the boys into his study and told them he wanted them to give him the spanking. They were appalled at this and asked why. Their father said that he must have not done well by them, since they could act so poorly. The pastor said this was the hardest spanking he ever hadd.
At that point, Holy Spirit drew me aside and asked, “How long will you spank your father?” Then He said, “I will deal with him according to My mercy.”
My father was in a care center with advanced cancer at the time. Three weeks later, he died while I was en route to see him.
If God could grant this broken man His mercy, I could do the same. From what I have been told, he gave his life to Jesus shortly before his death; I expect to see him in Heaven.
It took years for me to forgive my father for the many traumatic things he did and receive healing from the good, good Father: Papa God, mostly because things were only broght to my attention as I was ready for them.
One question I often asked was, “How do I honor parents who acted in hurtful ways?”
Part of the answer is to forgive. Honor has to do with reflecting God’s regard for people. If Jesus died for all sin, that includes those committed against each of us. We can join with Him, which brings blessing.
If you’re ready, you can pray something like this:
Papa God, by your grace, I forgive my earthly father for ______ (be as specific as you can.) I receive healing from You today. Thank You for being my good, good Father. Amen.
Be healed and set free, in Jesus’ wonderful Name.
Take time to listen;
What will you hear?
A gentle love song,
Sung softly and clear.
New every morning,
Echoed at night
As it fills your heart
With peace and delight.
Take time to notice;
What will you see?
Evidence of love,
Signs of God’s glory.
All of creation
Tells of his ways;
His mercy and love;
To him be all praise!
Light of the world,
You shine in me;
Shine even brighter
So that all may see
Your wonderful love;
Your magnificent grace
Your awesome expression
Reflected on my face.
King of all kings,
You reign in me;
Rule even more fully
So that all may be
With Your holy presence;
Your compassionate ways;
Peace, joy and hope;
True worship and praise.
God above all gods,
You live in me;
Awaken me fully
So that I will be
To faith in Your goodness,
Your joy, hope and peace;
Your mercy and kindness;
Your power released.
Oh Breath of Life,
You flow through me;
Flow ever more freely
So You may be
To all I encounter;
To this world that You love;
Until we all join You
In Heaven above.