Friday, July 12, 2013

longing for compassion


"The Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Isaiah 30:18

As I sit to write, I was reminded of something Donald Miller had written recently.  He said:
"The hours before I write in the morning are often filled with dread. Will the words show up today? Do I still have what it takes?" ~ Donald Miller
Yea. My sentiments exactly. This is an excerpt from one of his recent blogs, but really - it could be an excerpt, or rather extract, directly from my heart. Pretty much every morning. Seriously... If Miller struggles with this same dread, what hope is there for the rest of us, right? Those of us who feel this ambiguous call to sit and allow that which is within us to seep out through our fingers and onto a screen. We often call this making words, and the making of the words is a lot like the making of a cake – from scratch – as in, without a box of mix and the nifty instructional label. You’re so utterly and ultimately dependent on having the right ingredients, and the instructions engraved within you. And so, it is sitting still in the predawn hours of the morning that I find myself begging God to give me the words – these ingredients – and the grace and wisdom to mix them together, to create something worthy of ingesting.

I am desperate for Him to move more than my hands and by His grace, He moves my heart. My fingers follow. I wait on Him and He is faithful to show me compassion and grace. Truly his mercies are new every morning – and I so need them to be.

I long for my Father’s compassion and in doing so, I remember His word that tells me how He longs to grant compassion to me.

And just like that, I remember that I write to remember - to recall and recount that which is is countless. His mercies anew morning by morning, the spiritual lessons in which He teaches me daily – in the middle of it all – if only I’ll allow myself to see it, it’s there. Over and underneath, and all the places in between, it’s there. Grace awaits, longing to show us compassion, to mend the fragmented pieces of our lives.

There are deep spiritual lessons to be learned in the midst of broken hearts and yes, even broken iPads…

Chloe called me at work late yesterday afternoon from the sitter’s cell phone. Her voice low and serious, she proceeded to tell me [with way too many words that took way too long] the story of how she and her brother had just discovered one of our iPads outside on the trampoline. Apparently, it had been laying there overnight. In the flash flood. “Parker left it out there, Mommy,” she whispered. ”Can you go ahead and call Daddy and let him know?”

Bless her heart. I recognized something in her voice that was somewhat unfamiliar. Her tone was not that of a big sister calling to tattle on her brother, but one of grave concern – and compassion. She’d made that call to stand in the gap on behalf of her brother, both willingly and intentionally taking on the role of “bearer of bad news” by stragetically placing time and space between the confession and the consequence.

I glimpsed a little bit of Jesus there in that moment, in the middle of her selfless sacrifice.
At nine, I certainly didn’t have that kind of compassion. And at thirty-six, can I just tell you in those first few moments my heart certainly wasn’t longing to be compassionate in response to such carelessness.

Earlier that afternoon, I’d read the verse in 1 Samuel that says, “man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” Driving home, the verse came to mind again - and with it, compassion to my heart. He knows our motivations, our intentions, our hidden agendas. My child had made a careless mistake for which there would be consequences, but the truth is I knew that he adored that iPad. We don’t intentionally destroy that which we adore. But sometimes, we destroy it nonetheless – and live with the consequences.

I felt such strange, strong pangs of empathy.

He’d lost something that he’d counted as precious to him simply because he hadn’t guarded it properly. He’d been reckless by taking it outside, careless by abandoning it in the rain.

Oh son, I know. I’ve been there. More times than I can count. With that which is priceless. With those whom I adore. 
 
I sit him down and look him square in those big brown eyes brimming with tears. I could feel his heart brimming with fear. “Listen to me: I love you so much. I’m not angry with you. I don’t want you to be afraid. You’ve made a very careless mistake and there are always consequences. But, we are going to show you mercy, because we know you’re heart. I know that this was a mistake. I forgive you.”

I hear those words coming out of my mouth and I hear the Father’s words ringing loudly in my heart.

They are one in the same.

And here’s the thing: It’s a whole lot easier to demonstrate grace and mercy towards our kids’ mistakes when you remember the Father’s grace and mercy towards your own.

Later, we talked to the daddy via FaceTime on the other, non-soaked iPad. Chloe was chattering away while Parker was quiet, trying to go unnoticed, still fearful that what had happened would be brought up again. Still waiting for harsh words, or lecturing or further punishment. At first, he was reluctant to even come into the room and into his father’s presence.

Oh, how often I do the same thing with my Heavenly Father. Lurking in the shadows with tears in my eyes and fear in my heart. Refusing His comfort in the midst of my own consequences, even as He whispers to my heart through His word, “I love you. You’re forgiven.”

He comforts us with His compassion even as we walk in the midst of the consequences of our carelessnesss.

My son is seven and still learning about his earthly father’s unconditional love. I’m thirty-six and still learning about the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father.

He teaches me more every single day, in every single thing. “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

And I write them down. These mercies. This compassion. To remember. To remind others along this journey through the middles, that yes – “the Lord longs to be gracious to you therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.”
 

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