Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quotes that encourage me...

I finished re-reading the Gospel of Matthew and found myself going back to read over a pithy comeback from Jesus to (surprise, surprise) the Pharisees:
"Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders." [Matt.9:12b-13 MSG]

I had to stop and try to grasp a truth that has often eluded me... God is looking for people to serve who are about mercy, not religion. The problem is, many of us in the "religion" business (like the Pharisees!) are forgetting that we are actually in the "mercy" business. How many times do I react to someone, or pre-judge them because of a previous interaction or experience with them, or someone like them? How many times do I accuse in my mind and find them guilty without a hearing?

Way, WAY, WAY too often. And I suspect, if you are human, you are with me on this.

I remembered something in Michael Kelly Blanchard's book Unsung Heroes...
"What I have only recently come to see is that mercy is ultimately not a tool of judgment, to be dispensed or withheld in response to our behavior, but a free choice of a loving God originating from His tender
heart."


"The wild card of mercy is a characteristic of God - not just one of the many ministry arrows in His quiver. It is who He is, not just simply a description of what He so frequently does."

I was feeling a little guilty and doubting my "fitness for ministry" because I can't seem to get a handle on this. I begin to doubt my effectiveness because of my judgmental nature. Or I wonder if I can honestly, gently preach grace and mercy when I can not extend it to someone else.

Self-doubt is part of this down spiral of self-accusation and I seem to wallow around in my own whine. It's not a pretty picture, that.

Samuel Rutherford, in his letters... (found in The Loveliness of Christ) and quoted in Jan Karon's book Home to Holly Springs:
"When I am in the cellar of affliction I look for the Lord's choicest wines."

I am grateful for a merciful God who sits in the cellar with me... and then walks me upstairs to the High Places, too.

Deb

2 comments:

Mrs. M said...

Deb, I love this. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

It reminds me of the old recovery story (retold on The West Wing):
This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, 'Hey you. Can you help me out?' The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.
Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, 'Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?' The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, 'Hey, Joe, it's me can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here.' The friend says, 'Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out.'

In AA, the friend is a recovering alcoholic. To a lot of us, I think the friend is Jesus.

ria said...

Hello Fellow Buckeyes Fan!

A few day before the season starts, I just wanted to say a friendly...

(++) GO BUCKS! (++)

Can you tell that I'm excited for Saturday's game? :) :) :)