The room was full of concentration. The answer had to be there, just needed someone who understood to get a glimpse into the problem and aha… an adjustment here and a click there and the computer network would be back up and the lines of communication would be flowing freely.
As the concentration was at its height, a crash, not just one, but many. The noise from the other room shook the two men, they looked at each other and with quick feet one of them rushed to the kitchen to see the cause of such a racket. Behold, sitting there in the middle of a chair was the homeowners daughter. “Dad, I’m sorry… I am really sorry, I didn’t mean to do it.” Laying all around the daughter was glass, not just one or two shards but a world full of sharp edges and jagged danger.
The daughter had been getting a glass from the top shelf and when the shelf bracket allowed it to shift, down came the dishes, down on the two lower shelves. Again, the voice of the daughter shot through the air, “Dad, I am so sorry…” she stood there, bare footed and blood running down her legs with a look of complete horror on her face.
The father’s answer was quick, “you just stand there and look at your mess and when we get the computer fixed I will see what I can do to help, and if you are really ambitious, why don’t you start cleaning up a little of this mess before I get back.” “Next time you’ll watch what you’re doing won’t you!” You can identify with the father can’t you? OR CAN YOU?
If you are like I am, when I heard this story I said, “what a jerk of a father.” Well it’s a good thing that the last part of this story I just told was the story teller’s way of making a point, a point well taken.
Following his attention getting statement came the real reaction the father had and his answer to his daughter's pleas, the answer the father gave? “Honey, don’t move, I’ll come get you.” And he proceeded to move the pieces of glass, put his daughter on his back carry her to safety and mend her wounds. No stitches were needed and her life wasn’t in any real danger. With the mending complete he did what anyone of us would do, he went back into the kitchen and begin the process of cleaning up a big mess, a mess he didn’t even make.
God is like that. He looked at the earth and he saw a mess he didn’t make. Instead of telling the occupants to “get a life” and “straighten things up” he understood that compassion is the only answer to a mess that big. You see we stood, not with a little blood running down our legs and we needed more than stitches, we needed a major surgery, we needed a new life.
So he sent his Son. “Come to me those of you who are tired and carrying heavy burdens.”
So now I have a question, one which was proposed by the story teller and I think worth repeating. Why is that when we heard the story of the father and the daughter we thought “oh what a compassionate father.” And, why is it that when we think of God we tend to think, “oh man, he’s really gonna get me for that one!”.
Then the story teller said something that I will never forget, it’s the first time that I’ve ever heard anyone say this. “If this is how God (with only anger and judgment) responds to our messes, then I’m more compassionate than God!”
He followed up with, “you and I both know that isn’t right.”
One such burden carrier, a young man with a very religious upbringing wrote this, you may be able to quote it if you’ve been in church much, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”*
Just a thought, why do you and I fall into this mode so easily. We go back to earning instead of asking. We not only do that in our life, but we propagate it in the lives of others.
In the lives of believers we want to see “due repentance”, I understand the nature of reconciliation and restitution, I just wonder, how often has God made you repay your debt.
In the lives of those who do not follow Christ, we talk like they need to get their act together. We lay rules on them and try to shame them into following Christ. We call them names, speak of them harshly and complain about how they have messed our world (country for those of us in the
Jesus walked up to Matthew (a tax collector, not just a sinner) and he said “follow me.” There were no conditions and no need for Matthew to clean up his act, just follow. The rest of his life he was so touched by that invitation that he wanted to record his experience in a book you and I still read today.
Do you think he felt like he had to clean up the glass of his traitor ways? Do you see it in scripture where he paid fourfold like Zaccheus? And yet he got to follow Jesus, see him love, heal and challenge and he came away with a life changing story that speaks of grace.
A story we still read 2,000+ years later.
As a matter of fact, he recorded the longest sermon Jesus ever preached, which by the way, pointed out just how bad the circumstances were and began to help us see that HE was the true answer to the mess.
I hope your day starts, continues and ends with grace, not just rules and good behavior.
I’ve found the first to be effective and connecting to my "Abba."
The second, only people are impressed with.