Thursday, October 6, 2011

I desire mercy

These days, I am all about Mercy. Pretty much mostly for me.

The laundry needs folding, the dishes are piling, the toddler is wandering around without underwear holding his potty chair to "show me" what he did...accidentally tipping it over in the process. "Lord, have mercy," I say out loud.

It's not always chaos here; I hate to paint the wrong impression. We do have days moments where everyone is at absolute peace, myself included. But there are definitely those times, usually involving a diaper or lack thereof, when I know I'm need of some serious help.

As I was thinking about these things the other morning, and reflecting on my need to embrace the sacrifice of each moment, no matter how loud, or heavy, or stinky it is, I was struck by a particular verse in the Gospel of Matthew. ""Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'"

Really, Lord? 

Thomas à Kempis writes in the Imitation of Christ, "One does not live in love without suffering, and this is confirmed by daily experience." 

Bingo, Mr. à Kempis! That pretty much sums my daily experience, anyway. But do Jesus' words mean that all sacrifice and mortification are useless and that we only need to love to set everything right? 

I'm guessing not. Here's one thought. Perhaps these words refer instead to God.  Perhaps the love that is spoken of is not that which God expects from man, but the love God has for man. Perhaps “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” means: God wants to be merciful, not to condemn. As is in Ezekiel: “I do not want the death of the sinner, but that he convert and live.” God does not want to “sacrifice” his creature but to save him through his repentance.

How revealing... and convicting. Do I ask for mercy for myself, and ask for sacrifice from others toward me? Or do I offer mercy toward everyone around me, and sacrifice myself?

Do I bend my children's wills toward mine because the dishes just MUST BE PUT THIS WAY IN THE SINK; because no, mommy is too tired to clean up pudding paint AGAIN; because it's a nice day but mommy is allergic to every plant in this state? Do I think -- well, you got yourself into that pickle, now not get yourself out! And all the while I plead, Lord have mercy on me.

It's quiet in the house now. The kids are now all asleep; a cool Fall breeze floats through the windows. It's easier to sacrifice now, with no one yelling that I'm doing it wrong. It's good time to begin again. The stinky is still in the bathroomm, waiting. And so, with a silenced, humbled heart, I turn around.


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