My Photo
Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mercy, Mercy Me

While the boys were young enough for Easter baskets, we'd fill them up with the usual stuff like candy and toys. But we'd also put those plastic pull apart eggs in them with slips of paper inside. On each slip was written something different; stay up late one night, snack, movie, foot rub, and mercy or grace. Grace could be used as a total forgiveness, or a 'get out of trouble completely' card and mercy as we'd show mercy on them or a 'much lighter and reduced punishment' card. We didn't do the Easter Bunny, but still wanted to celebrate the sacrifice God made for us, as well as Christ's love for us. We wanted to teach the kids about God's grace and mercy. As they got too old for Easter baskets, we'd still give them the eggs with their slips of paper in them.
Now, most years, Charlie would have his grace and mercy slip used by the end of the day. And, that's okay. Casey would save his for the big things. He'd wait so long, taking his small punishments without using them to where we'd forget all about them, and then when he'd make that really huge mistake months after Easter, he'd pull out that grace or mercy slip, depending on the severity of the punishment. Every single year when one of those slips came out, we'd nearly want to say "NO WAY", but every year those slips became as big a lesson for us as they did for him.
I remember one year, maybe when Casey was 13 and Charlie 12, we were leaving a Main Event in the middle of a very hot summer and Casey had lost to Charlie in front of his friends at laser tag. This put Casey in a really bad mood. In the parking lot, Charlie just kept teasing Casey about it and Casey threw a punch. Well, it was on. In the parking lot of Main Event with all their friends and their parents getting into their cars around us. Now, I can count the number of times the boys have fought each other on one hand...and for two boys that close in age, that's not bad. But I yelled at them to break it up, saw Casey whaling away on Charlie (though Charlie was getting his punches in too) and I stepped in the middle of them trying to break them up. At that time, Casey was taller than me and Charlie not quite. When I tried to push them apart, I caught a punch intended for Charlie, right in the eye. The realization that I'd been hit is what stopped the fight.
Now, I was seriously injured. I had a swollen and very black eye. Neither one of them had a mark on them, go figure. Anyway, yeah...I was mad. They got in the car, and no one said a word all the way home. Oh, Casey was sorry. But he was also still angry and he was a 13 year old boy with all that changing going on in his freakishly tall body. So, his 'sorry' was more like "I didn't mean to hit you". When we got home he went straight to his room and didn't come down until after Mark had came home from work, saw my eye and we discussed what had happened. Mark doesn't get mad often, but this was one of those times he did. We finally called Casey down from his room and we told him he was grounded from tv, radio, video games, or going out side to play with his friends for the rest of the summer. Something like a month, I think. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the mercy slip of paper. He said that he didn't want to walk away scott free from what he'd done so he was using the mercy slip. Mark and I both wanted to say "NO WAY", that he deserved to get the full punishment for what he'd done, but...we had to honor that slip of paper. We had to learn that lesson of mercy, as well as Casey did.

I know this post is getting long, and I'm sorry. Even though I spent most of it telling you about how we tried to teach our kids the importance of God's grace and mercy to us, all of us, what I wanted to say most was that I'd forgotten that importance lately. I like to think I'm a pretty good 'Christian' example, but in reality, lately I've not been. Through prayer and conviction of the Holy Spirit (and for those of you who are not sure what I'm talking about, just suffice to say it ain't pretty) and with ~deb bringing it home, I realized that I've not showed mercy to a friend of mine who recently did me wrong. It was revealed to me that I can't pick and choose whom I show God's grace and mercy to, just as He doesn't pick and choose whom He shows it to. It's a gift given to all of us and we're to, in turn, show it to others. It's easier to show someone mercy when their transgression is not against you personally. This is what I have learned. I'm not a quick study, apparently, but I do learn eventually.
So, to the friend that I have hardened my heart to, I will now apologize and ask them for their forgiveness. I love them, as God has loved me through all my many mistakes, and I will continue to love them as He continues to love me.

Forgive me my sins, oh Lord. I acknowledge them, and I lay them at Your feet. I thank You, for Your love. I thank You for Your forgiveness, for Your grace and for Your Mercy, Lord. Help me to not only set aside my pride, but to bury it. I want to be a witness of You, Father. Of Your love.
In all my ways, may I be an example of Your Word and Your Love. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.