Friday, July 05, 2013

Blessed are the merciful

For they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy. I want it. I need it. I gotta give it.

I know what it feels like to be judged. It hurts. I don't like it.

If you are as old as I am you remember the line from Karate Kid that the bad sansei taught the mean kids, "Mercy is for the weak." I think Syndrome also called mercy a weakness in The Incredibles.

They're right. In a way. I am merciful because I am weak and I need others to be merciful to me. Now God is not merciful because He is weak. He isn't. But He is merciful because we are weak.

We are. We are weak creatures who can only see and perceive from our vantage point, our senses, our memories and experiences, our knowledge base. I read or hear what someone says and I can't help but interpret it through my own understanding, my pain, my history. But God.

God is my translator. He is my filter. He heals me. He can turn pain and discomfort and bumps and bruises and misunderstandings into mercy and compassion and love and intercession.

And sometimes I can look at a situation and think, like Esther, what if I'm here for such a time as this? What if God is allowing me to see this person in a weak state so I can step up and pray them through? What if this current awkwardness is really a commissioning and an invitation to partner with Him in the work He's doing?

And sometimes I flunk and eat another cookie and stomp around feeling crappy. Just sayin'.

Mercy says this: I stand before the same throne of grace as you, armed with nothing but Jesus' blood to defend me, same as you. My righteousness is the same as yours, nasty rags. I got nothin' on you. I can love you, I can forgive you, I can lift you up. That's all I got. Mercy. I can't fix you. I can't fix me! But I can bless you.

I am thankful to receive mercy. When I do. And when I don't receive mercy from other weak human beings (like myself), I am thankful that God is rich in mercy, and lavishes it on us.

What a Redeemer He is! I was reading again about Lot's creepy daughters that got their dad drunk, raped him, and got pregnant by him. Ew. And I'm thinking, why didn't God just wipe them out with Sodom? But the elder daughter's son was Moab, father of the Moabites, one of whom was Ruth, of the book of Ruth, ancester of David and Jesus. For the price of God's mercy on a couple nasty, impatient, ungrateful teenage girls, we get a GREAT book and picture of our Kinsman-redeemer, and the bloodline of the great king and the King of kings. God just knows better than we do.

I was also noticing again that the only women mentioned in Matthew's account of Jesus' lineage were the ones who you'd be embarrassed to have there. Rahab the prostitute, Bathsheba the adulteress, Tamar the "temple prostitute", Ruth the Moabitess, not a great list. They didn't have to be included. No other women were. They're there because He wants us to know He's a Redeemer. He is our Redeemer, making all things new.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ordinary every day miracles

I think we take miracles for granted sometimes. Like flying. When people first flew in a plane, I bet they thought it was a miracle. Now some people fly every week and don't think anything about it. (I, on the other hand, don't do it that often, so I still geek out over every take off and pray through every landing.)

When our grandparents first saw The Wizard of Oz, they were blown away by seeing color in a movie for the first time. But I doubt anyone in America was impressed tonight by the spectrum of color on the commercials they watched on the private tv screen in their living room/bedroom/kitchen/or phone.

I wonder if people who do heart surgery and brain surgery and emergency appendix operations think of them as miracles. Even the now demonized vaccinations were once miracles that did and still do save lives.

We don't think of these things as miracles because we are used to them. There are probably lots of better examples. Miracles that happen all the time, so we don't see them as amazing or incredible or beautiful. We're used to them.

I just want to say here that just because something happens with some predictability doesn't mean it is predictable, and just because something happens often doesn't make it less exceptional, and if something is truly spectacular and stunning and perfect, then it is still marvelous even if something similar has happened once or twice or a dozen or so other times.

How do I share something so sacred, so holy, so unique in a way that the information doesn't get lost in the fact that no one is surprised? Would it help to say that I was surprised? I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. Even though I have been so very blessed, I do not assume the miraculous will be repeated. I hope and pray for more miracles. But I don't take it for granted that it will happen. I'm 42. The statistical odds are quite low. But God . . .

In the middle of the miracle of the holy love of a man and his wife, in the most sacred of ways, God the Creator, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit has glorified Himself again, just as He did in a garden thousands of years ago, and has made something, someone entirely new. Weeks ago, He began knitting, without our knowledge but with our heartfelt desire and prayer that He would, an altogether unique, never before conceived human spirit, complete with soul and body. He who made the sun, moon and stars, the oceans, fish and whales, the octopus and elephant and ostrich, the passion flower and bird of paradise, the microscopic and the gigantic, the volcano and glacier, Who formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, is making a baby. In me.

And if the world around us has the understandable response of some positive form of 'again' or some negative form of 'why?' or 'don't you know how this happens?', I just want to say that my response is awe and wonder, stunned silence and joyful dancing, and heaps and tall mountains of gratitude. He doesn't have to do this. It is a miracle. God is making someone fantastic without whom, He knows, the world would be incomplete.

Have you ever heard anything so wonderful in your whole life? ("Yes," someone might say, "I've heard it from you a dozen times"). Ah, no. This is completely different. He has never made anything like this before. It is simply marvelous. It is special. It is sacred. It is a miracle.