God, who is rich in mercy… even when we were dead in sins. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
A human being is never really aware of the great boundless sea of the mercy of God until by faith he comes across the threshold of the kingdom of God and recognizes it and identifies it!
My father was 60 years old when he bowed before Jesus Christ and was born again. That was a near lifetime in which he had sinned and lied and cursed. But to him, the mercy of God that took him to heaven was no greater than the mercy of God that had endured and kept him for 60 years.
I recall the story of an ancient rabbi who consented to take a weary old traveler into his house for a night of rest. In conversation, the rabbi discovered the visitor was almost 100 years old and a confirmed atheist. Infuriated, the rabbi arose, opened the door and ordered the man out into the night.
Then, sitting down by his candle and Old Testament, it seemed he heard a voice, God’s voice: “I have endured that sinner for almost a century. Could you not endure him for a night?” The rabbi ran out and overtaking the old man, brought him back to the hospitality of his home for the night.