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Mercy--The Road Back  

Until you have messed up and fully understood the mess you've made, you can't appreciate the wonder of mercy.

Last Sunday, our church orchestra accompanied the congregation, singing In the First Light. While the lyrics and melody are powerful, the arrangement—created by our minister of music, Dennis Criser—is profound.

Our rehearsal went well, and afterward, I put my French Horn down and jaunted over to Dennis to let him know how much I appreciated the creativity that went into his work. Then came the actual Sunday morning performance.

Dennis wrote the French Horn part in an easy key—just one flat. Yet, for whatever reason, I carelessly failed to check this detail and played as if there was one sharp instead.

For non-musicians, imagine the sound a piano makes when you simultaneously play a white key AND the black key right next to it. Sour! It sounded even more sour because the introduction was essentially a French Horn solo accompanied only by piano. It wasn’t a total wreck, as I was able to correct the error of my ways in just one or two bars. Nevertheless, the damage was done.

That’s hardly the crime of the century or the disappointment of a lifetime. Still, as music goes, it was a wreck—and I caused it. After church, I apologized to Dennis and added, “The first few bars were a disaster. But then, I found the road back.”

With the warmest of smiles and the kindest of words, Dennis replied, “Jon, there’s always a road back.” And he left it at that. What a picture of mercy—the fragrance that defined Jesus perhaps more than any other.

As we stand at the edge of a new year, we can be sure that in the days ahead, there will be folks who (mostly unintentionally) create sour music: a critical word, an ungrateful spirit, a temper out of control. Ugliness has a thousand sounds.

The only question is—will you respond in anger, or will you show mercy?

Here’s to choosing mercy.

It’s always the road back. 


Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 

-James 2:13






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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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