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Martin Wiles

Dr. Martin Wiles

Crowds of sick people — blind, lame, or paralyzed — lay on the porches. John 5:3 NLT

Once through the line wasn’t enough.

We called her Aunt T. She was my maternal grandfather’s sister — and a strange one. All I remember about her is her repeated trips through the covered dish food lines at Gerizim United Methodist Church in Vance, South Carolina.

Loving a neighbor

When there was dinner on the grounds at the little white clapboard-sided church my grandparents attended, Aunt T showed up. She slowly made her way down the food line, carefully piling food on her plate. Then, she wrapped the plate and placed it in her car trunk. Next, she returned for a second trip and repeated her previous actions. On the third go round, she finally sat to eat.

My cousin and I stood at a distance, laughing. I wondered what made her keep going back for more. Was she poor? Did she not have food at her house? Was she a miser? Or was she just plain crazy?

Jesus encountered a group of people who kept returning for more at the pool of Bethesda. Tradition said an angel stirred the waters. The first in would be healed of any physical malady they had. One man had been coming for 38 years, but his condition prevented him from getting in first. Jesus didn’t help him into the pool; He merely healed him.

I love coming back for more of God’s mercy — which never ends. Mercy is His undeserved favor. I don’t deserve anything from Him, but He gives me grace and mercy by the bucketful. He can’t help it. Doing so is parcel to His nature.

The easy thing about receiving God’s mercy is that He’s more than willing to give it when I ask — and sometimes when I don’t. He’s not stingy. He is a giving God and wants me to be a channel of His mercy. As I come back for more from Him, I want others to come back for more from me.

Yet, I shouldn’t take God’s mercy for granted. He’s not obligated to distribute it. I can’t earn it; I must accept it freely. God simply wants my love and obedience in return. Regardless of how discouraged I might be, His mercy is always available to lift my spirits.

Family needs good fathers now, always

When in a relationship with God, hope always exists. Life has a habit of throwing things our way that have the potential of getting us down. But don’t let them cause you to despair. Keep going back for more of God’s mercy and grace. He has an endless supply.

Aunt T had it right after all.

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Martin Wiles is managing editor of Christian Devotions, assistant editor of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and author of Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. His work is featured at


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