When I Met Mercy

When I heard that Beth Moore’s newest study was called James: Mercy Triumphs, I couldn’t wait to find a study nearby and sign up!

James is my favorite book of the Bible because it was James who introduced me to his big brother, Jesus.

I grew up going to church. So I knew about Jesus, believed in Jesus, and even prayed to Jesus. But I had never met Jesus, the Person, until James introduced us.

At age 17, I went to summer camp. After one of the morning sessions, the speaker asked us to spend the next 20 minutes reading our Bible alone.

I meandered a bit until I found a path that led me straight uphill. After hiking to the top, I discovered a grassy meadow. There, I knelt at a log to read my Bible.

The extent of my Bible knowledge was pretty basic. I knew there was an Old part and a New part. So I decided to start with the new stuff.

I looked up the Table of Contents and found Matthew. Unfortunately, chapter one begins with a genealogy, which is beyond boring. So I skipped it and moved on to chapter two, which happens to be the story of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. Good stuff.

But then I read about Herod, who was so afraid of what the three wise men told him that he had all the boys under the age of two murdered.

Somehow, whenever we have a Christmas pageant in December, we manage to leave that part out, because I had never heard this before.

Naturally, I found it disturbing. Thus, in less than five minutes, I found the Bible to be boring and depressing. I decided to dump Matthew.

I then turned a chunk of pages and ended up in “Gal-uh-tee-ins.”

Well, I didn’t know what a “Gal-uh-tee-in” was (Galatian), so I kept flipping. But then it’s more of the same: EphesiansPhilippiansColossians. Again, nothing in English — until I came to Timothy. (But I knew a guy once named Timothy, and I didn’t like him very much. So I wasn’t interested in reading anything the first or second Timothy had to say.)

I kept turning pages until I got to James. Finally! Something normal that I recognize!

I began anew  — then quickly came across these words:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you suffer…” (James 1:2).

Well, I quit reading right there. I mean, who does that?

This little 20-minute Bible-reading experiment wasn’t going well. I now thought the Bible was boring, depressing, and confusing. Still, I had a problem because I had a good 13 minutes to go, and I was running out of Bible. And I knew at least enough to know that I didn’t want to get all the way to Revelation.

So I decided to give James another chance, except I would skip chapter one. That’s when my eyes fell to James 2:19.

“You believe that there is one God. Good!
Even the demons believe in that — and shudder.”

I may not have known much about the Bible, but I knew about angels and demons. And the thought had never occurred to me that even the demons believe in God!

Then I thought about Herod. He must have believed what the wise men said about a coming Messiah as King or else he wouldn’t have had any reason to kill all those boys.

The demons believed. Herod, to some extent, believed. I believed.

I stopped right there and asked God to show me what it means to live for Him in such a way that it’s more than just believing about Him.

I continued reading the rest of James and kept on praying.

And Jesus met me there. On that mountaintop.

In the beginning, there wasn’t a preacher.
In the beginning, there wasn’t an altar call.
In the beginning, there wasn’t a mentor. Those came later.

In the beginning was the Word.
And the Word was with God.
And the Word was God (John 1:1).

And it was through His Word — through the book of James — that God called me into a relationship with Him.

That day on the mountaintop began my lifelong journey of studying His Word and spending time with Him.

Now, more than 20 years later, it is still a joy and a privilege to study His Word. I am so grateful for the opportunity to sit around a table each week with a group of amazing women to study this now-familiar book, James, through the lens of Beth Moore’s study. It has quickly become my favorite study yet.

Have you met Jesus, personally?
Are you part of a regular Bible study of some kind?
Can I pray for you?

Today, I am thankful . . .

153. for the call to study His Word
154. for the call to live His Word
155. for the call to share His Word

156. for humble beginnings
157. for challenging middles
158. for redeeming ends

159. for open meadows
160. for log altars
161. for mountaintop meetings

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for.

40 thoughts on “When I Met Mercy

  1. Oh, I loooooved this post! I love hearing about other people finding Jesus! I have so many good camp memories, but none like yours. I have met God many, many times outdoors, though. I think it happens everyday now, even if it’s just through my kitchen window.

    I can’t say that I had one specific moment when I met Jesus personally. It was more of a slow getting to know him over a course of many years. I can point to one specific moment, however, when I completely surrendered (and I mean *completely*) to him. It happened at a lake last summer after I discovered something terrible and didn’t know what to do about it. It was a moment that would change my life and take me on a entirely different journey than I thought I’d be on.

    • I think camp is the best! So many fond memories made there. But a few of them have impacted me for life. And, yes, getting to know Him is still a process that takes time for everyone. He wants us to meet with Him daily, not just once on a mountaintop. 🙂

      I’d love to hear more of your story sometime. {HUGS}

  2. Oh I love Beth Moore studies. I haven’t done in awhile and didn’t know about James. I also enjoy the book of James. What do you think so far? It was fun to hear a bit of your story!

    • That makes perfect sense. Our relationship with God continues to grow over time, with little markers ~ stones of remembrance ~ along the way. He is so faithful to meet us right where we are.

  3. What a beautiful story of how Jesus pursues, Denise. Yes, my women’s group did Beth’s study of James at the beginning of the year and I *loved* it! That’s why I made the scripture cards. I’m memorizing but over the course of the year. I’m wimpy that way 🙂 but love savoring the words over a longer time. Blessings as you study about James. You are going to be so blessed!

  4. Somehow I’ve yet to be involved in a Beth Moore study! I want to, and have come close before, but it fell through. The James study sounds wonderful. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. You have a beautiful testimony.

  5. I’m so glad James introduced you to Jesus that day. And I’m overjoyed you’ve chosen to write about your journey and your relationship. Your words always bless me and bring life.

    Can’t wait to meet you at She Speaks in July! 🙂


  6. This is so wonderful, Denise…I always love hearing testimonies because God is glorified…I am so glad that God spoke to you that day on the mountain and that I got to read about it…Beautiful!

  7. Hi Denise,
    I love your honesty when you write! I’ve always struggled with the book of Job because it seems so unfair. I could never get past the beginning, when I’d get upset and decide I couldn’t read it. But over the past year or two, He’s been leading me to Job on occasion and providing some insight. He always knows when we’re ready to go a little deeper into His Word! 🙂

    Around this time last year, God led me to start a blog and an online Bible study for women. We just finished our 4th book this week, and they have been incredible studies. I believe you get out of a study what you put into it. For me, writing about the studies and what I’m learning has made each study an even deeper experience.

    God Bless,

    • Laura, I understand what you mean about the book of Job. After the first few chapters, I had a hard time wanting to even finish that book. (Oftentimes, I just skipped to the final chapters.) Then two years ago, I studied Job intently, for I taught on it at my church’s women’s Bible study. And my eyes were opened to whole new truths in that book I had never before realized. Now, I LOVE the book of the Job! Crazy, isn’t it?

  8. this had me giggling over how you were in my early years head too… then you said this:

    “In the beginning, there wasn’t a preacher.
    In the beginning, there wasn’t an altar call.
    In the beginning, there wasn’t a mentor. Those came later.”

    and my heart said, yes. Thank you.

  9. Coming over from Write It, Girl! ~ yes, this James study by Beth Moore is sooo good! I am going through it with a group from our church – we are in Week 4 now, taking two weeks for each lesson. I love the book of James … so much to learn from this little book. Thanks for sharing your story about James …

  10. Oh, the sweet confounding invitation of the Word of God! I’m so happy that you stuck with it and that the spirit of Christ piqued your understanding in just his wonderful (and wacky) way. James is a little and powerful book — I’ve heard this study is a-maz-ing! Bless you!

  11. I absolutely adore James, especially Beth Moore’s study of it. I think I have personally come away from it more changed than any other study, so I think that says a lot. I have already finished the study, and let me give a teaser the last lesson is the best one!

  12. Thanks for sharing your story! I bet a lot of people approach reading the bible the same way. Thank God, James “hooked” you!

    I’m thankful for the call to study, live and share His Word, too!

    • I try to always remember what the Bible first seemed like when I first attempted to read it for myself. Strange. Archaic. Confusing. But then His Spirit breathes life, and His living Word speaks. It’s so amazing; it’s why I love reading and studying and sharing His Word so much!

  13. Hi Denise. I appreciate your honesty in this post and the comments of your 17-year-old self are so true. We go to church, take our kids to church and Sunday School and think we know it all. But it’s really an individual response, isn’t it? And one that comes at various stages of our lives. I’ll remember your example as I continue to raise my teenagers in the faith.

    • Yes, it really is all about our individual response to His calling. And it does, indeed, come at various stages in our lives. I try to remember that myself now that I am raising a 17-year-old daughter!

  14. Thank you for sharing this. It’s always a privilege to know how people found out they needed more of Jesus Christ. It’s great that you learned when you were relatively young. I imagine that some of the kids in the group just sputtered and let their minds drift to other topics that seemed more important in their lives. But you were willing to meet God — and God met you where you were.

  15. Denise,
    I love so many of your posts, but this one maybe gets number one spot! It’s so authentic, amusing, touching, sobering, and delightful! I am thinking that speaker was wonderfully wise. I bet somebody was doing some heavy-duty praying, too, during that twenty minutes. It might not be hard to get a peer-pressured “response” to an invitation to accept Christ with such a group. But this was putting you right in touch with Himself, and letting the Holy Spirit do what He does better than any of us. The real deal!
    Big blessings to you!

    • Wow, Sylvia, that means a lot. Thank you. Ya’ know, I bet you’re right! Somebody (perhaps even several people) must have been praying during that time!

      We are blessed in this country to be able to hear great speakers at churches and conferences, but there is no voice like His voice. And when He speaks, the world stands still. The real deal, for sure! Blessings to you, my friend.

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