Tag Archive: Mercy


Drinks On The House

The host shouts “Drinks on the house” and the guests cheer. The party moves and sways as joy and laughter swell. Mysteriously the joy of the wine never spills over into inebriation or disorder. This gathering seems very different than others. Through the windows, doors and every seam of the house the sounds and smells of revelry can’t be contained. They flow freely into the surrounding area drawing any who pass by to come closer. The host even sends a few out into the dark streets because there is more wine and plenty of room. Somehow the warmth of the wine and the sounds of the party were so thick and real that the invitation carriers are kept warm even out in the cold night air. While they are out she passes by, drawn to the smells and sounds of perfect joy, but approaching the door she can’t believe the door is open. She clearly thinks to herself, “this can’t be for me” despite seeing the sign by the door saying
“No Shirt, No Shoes – No Problem”. Sign - NoProblemOver the roar of joy, she hears the host resound, “Drinks on the house!” A few from the party recognize her from the night as she peaks through the door, and without hesitation she is brought in to taste the wine and enjoy community. Then a few members of the party forget that they didn’t pay for their drinks bring a small disruption to the flow of joy. They were there first at the party and resented this strange woman coming in to share in the festivities. Then as more strangers from unexpected places came through the door, all who were there, even those singing out of tune, couldn’t help but see the host break some bread and hold up a cup saying, “Drinks on the house!”

baby_frog_2_by_jay_k_pics-d3nwm43A typical second grade boy cannot be expected to understand when a parent says “Just a few minutes.” He was in the garage dressed in his nice jeans with his button up shirt tucked in, and hair all combed ready to go to the church dinner on a Wednesday night. Mom sticks her head through the door and says, “We will be leaving in just a few minutes.” The door shuts as Mom goes back in to finish getting ready. The 2nd grader thinks that “Just a few minutes” gives him permission because it is enough time for a small adventure despite knowing that she most likely intended for him to stay there to be ready. Behind the houses across the street there is a canal which has been the source of many previous adventures. Despite knowing better he found himself leaving the garage. The canal slopes down on each side dropping around 10 feet below street level and always have at the minimum of about a foot of water flowing slowly even on the driest days.  On this particular day walking along the edge of the canal near a drain pipe emptying a trickle of water into the canal provides an amazing discovery. Hundred upon hundreds of baby frogs scatter with every step. This of course requires further investigation. So closer to the edge of the water the 2nd grader discovers hundreds of these creatures are transitioning from tadpole to frog. Many are still in the water with both legs and a tail. He has just a few minutes so off go the shoes and socks and he rolls up his jeans and the slimy clay-like earth squish between his toes as he enters into the water to catch these amazing creatures. The adventure takes him deeper when above the rim of the canal he hears a familiar voice drift down to the muddy water which awakens him from his fascination. He looks down to realize how deep he is. He realizes how there is sediment, clay, and mud all over him and his clothes. Awareness of his situation and all of his choices fill him with some remorse as he quickly grabs his socks and shoes and rises over the top of the canal dripping with him the stale smell of the neighborhood’s drainage system. He begins to move in the direction of his Mom’s voice.

Mom was filled with great emotions as her beloved son who had disappeared from the garage had now returned. The boy begins to tear up and apologize, but Mom interrupts saying, “shhh, baby…I love you. Take my hand. Let’s go get you cleaned up.” Mom graciously took her sons dirty hand and gently ushers him into the garage and shuts the outer door. She instructs her child to strip down out of those once nice church clothes. As the shirt comes off little frogs begin appearing jumping out of every pocket, nook, cranny, and crevice and scattering all over the garage for safety from the dirty little boy. Some of the little frogs didn’t survive. His wet and muddy jeans end up bunched around his ankles. No matter how hard he struggles, twists, and pulls the jeans won’t come off. He is filled with a mix of guilt and gratitude as Mom reaches down and helps him out of those smelly wet jeans as the last few frogs are released to safety as she empties the pockets. Mom brings her son inside straight to the shower. The water starts off cold and shocking, but warms up as the soap and water begin doing their wonderful transforming work. As if Mom has some magical powers, when he get’s out of the shower he sees that a new set of clean church clothes mysteriously appeared on the counter-top next to the sink. Moments later that 2nd grade boy is clean and dressed in these fresh garments. He is hungry and looking forward to eating dinner with his Mom. His Mom is smiling as he gets in the car. They get to the Wednesday night church dinner right on time instead of arriving very early as planned because it all took just a few minutes.

  • I wonder where you see yourself in this story?
  • I wonder where you see God in this story?

Generous

a sheep 1433343_20626865The book, The Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith has been been a wonderful book for me, and I am so glad I am sharing this experience with a small group(I love you guys!). This last chapter about God’s generosity has been the most important chapter so far for me personally.  Our exercise for the week was to reflect on Psalm 23. The plan was reciting it when we wake up, as we go to sleep and meditating slowly throughout the week as you can.  It became an interesting week of encountering the psalm. I went jogging one morning trying to recite it over and over. I found myself stuck on v6 “Surely goodness and love(mercy) will follow me all the days of my life”.  The previous chapter talked about God being good, and I had read somewhere in scripture about God being love. My understanding of God being with us, Emmanuel, took on new meaning for me as this verse  echoed in my head.

Then I had lunch with a friend of mine and some how the conversation turned to Psalm 23. I asked him why he said this was his favorite and he immediately pointed to God’s “rod and staff”. I was shocked. I was expecting “green pastures” or “restored soul”.  As the conversation went on I understood. He had spent many years as a crack addict and it was God who protected him with that rod and that staff.  It was the rod and the staff that beat back the addictions and he has been sober for 5 years now. After his story I wrote down what he taught me “The Lord protects us through our prayers.”  Then to cap off the week of reflection yesterday we had a memorial service at the church and we read through Psalm 23 in the context of memory and death and hope in resurrection.

We have a good shepherd out front wooing us to him and in his good ways. We have a good shepherd walking among us with a gentle hand on our heads comforting us and protecting us. We have a good shepherd who is behind us encouraging us forward and picking us up in His arms when we stray.

Jesus Christ, thank you for being our good shepherd and our LORD. Thanks for leading us to the living waters that restores our souls. Jesus guide us in your right paths to the green pastures of your provision. May your name be glorified. God we walk through dark, dark places. We sometimes walk with one foot in the grave, but we will not fear because you are with us, protect us, and comfort us. You set up your heavenly banquet of bread and wine, body and blood, in the midst of enemies and chaos. You set us apart by your love anointed by grace and our cups overflow with your never ending love, mercy and grace that is with us all the time. You have prepared a place for us and we can dwell with you and you with us forever! Amen

Beauty at 15mph

mphOn my birthday my wife suggested I take a long bike ride since I haven’t done much of that lately. It was amazing. I went for about 25 miles (longer than any ride I have done in a long while).  What is funny is no matter how hard I try (granted, I haven’t been training at all) I can never average over 15 miles per hour.  I may hit 42 mph going down hill on Weaver Dairy Road, but at the end of my ride my average will be somewhere between 14 and 15 mph. I noticed something on this ride. In the car going 60 mph down the highway we see things only in broad strokes. Beauty comes in the big picture. We miss so much at 60 mph. Details of beauty and truth that before you finish pointing them out to the kids is already in the rear view mirror. I was wishing I hadn’t ridden alone. There were so many things I noticed that I wanted to share. From the person who was shaking out a rug off the front porch living in a log cabin tucked among the trees to the huge mansion of a house on a hill set far back on acres and acres of cleared land. Beneath me I noticed the cracks in the road forming from the power of water and ice and debris built up from the storm the day before. I was able to notice both the amount of litter and what kind of litter lined the road and also the numerous flowers that were growing in very unexpected places.

I am starting to feel challenged by the rhythms and pace of God’s kingdom. I am wondering if the pace of God’s kingdom fluctuates between the speed of walking and riding a bike. It has been in these moments of riding a bike or walking with my wife that I feel like I see the world clearer. More like it really is, instead of as a blur of hurriedness and business.  It has been in these walks and these rides that I sense a sort of peace that doesn’t seem to happen at 60mph.

Jesus, show me/us the rhythms, speed and pacing of your kingdom. Ease me/us into the grooves and patterns of life that bring peace and joy, mercy and grace, love and healing. Slow me/us down to see the world as you see it. Help me/us to see both the beauty and the brokenness. May your kingdom come and will be done.

Amen