Only Grace and Mercy

February 28, 2013

Recently, while praying, God told me, There is no justice on earth, only grace and mercy.  

Then he gave me this picture:

I am a small child standing at the register of a tiny old-fashioned store. There is only one register; I am standing in front of it, the door on my right. A small wrinkled man is at the till. He is giving me the wrong change. I point this out to him and he refuses to consider that he might be wrong. Jesus is standing behind me with a gold coin the size of an apple. The coin is for me.  Not for good behavior but because Jesus wants to give it to me, because he can. Jesus does not want me to quibble about the five cents (even if I am right) because he has a gold coin for me.  Part of me feels angry. I want the clerk to acknowledge that he, not me, has made a mistake.  I feel a childish pride about my ability to do mental math. But Jesus is asking me to be like Him.  He explains that almost no one on earth is willing to own all his/her faults—including me.  Jesus stays relational, stays connected with us anyway even though he sees clearly the sin we are unwilling to fully own.

The scene replays over and over. I know that as soon as I am done paying for my small purchase Jesus and I are going to go spend the day together. We are both anticipating the day with joy. The gold coin will abundantly supply all we need. But Jesus is not in a hurry. He is not impatient. He is gently coaching me, gently teaching me and he will not be hurried. At first I am angry with the clerk but Jesus leans over my shoulder and urges me to see into the clerk’s heart. Soon I am able to see the man with compassion but as we replay the scene again, the clerk gets meaner. At one point he spits on me. But Jesus is watching, quietly urging me to look into the heart of this hurting man and not take offense or even argue. It hurts. I want to be right. But all I have to do is turn to Jesus and he wraps me in his arms and comforts me. In the last replay, the man refuses to serve me at all, but by now I am not taking the offense personally, I understand in a deep and grounded way that this is not about me. I am not troubled because I know the clerk is in pain, otherwise he would not act like this.  I see into his heart and feel compassion. He is not being the person he was made to be and this is tragic.  I am simply able to glance back at Jesus who is standing so close behind me that I feel His warm breathe and presence of His strong body beneath his robes.  Our eyes meet as I turn my head. I see how proud He is of me and I smile.  I understand that nothing is more important than being like Him. Pleasing Him. Making Him proud. He sees into our hearts and knows every sin, wounds, and blind spot that fouls our soul. But He never uses that to lord over us or despise us or make us feel less than Him. He sees us with compassion. Even though he can see into the darkest most hidden recesses of our hearts, he does not expose us. He receives what we are able to own and acknowledge and is proud of our small victories.


Lessons from the Life Model

May 15, 2009

It is a simple exercise, you simply say, “Lord, help me to perceive you,” then when you see where he is, and make that connection, say, “Lord, help me to perceive you more clearly.” (www.kclehman.com)

Quiet yourself and enjoy being with him. After all, Jesus is always with us, even if we do not believe in him, so the sense that we are alone is a matter of our perception, not reality. He is there. With me. With you.

The other night I was watching a DVD with my family when a memory flooded back—losing my new red bike to my brother.  Before you conclude that my parents are heartless, let me explain.  I was the second of five children and had received a new bike, a rarity, for my birthday. I eyed the shiny wheels and frame and my heart sang.  Then a few months (or was it years?) later my older sister got a new bike for her birthday,  so all the bikes bumped down the peaking order: I got her old one, a used blue, heavy thing and my bike went to my younger brother. I remember well the sting, the sense of outrage. It was, after all, my bike!

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