Choosing Mercy

My children confront me everyday with a choice about which characteristic of God is going to be most pronounced. I typically go with the anger of God approach without mixing in the eternal wrath. I stop myself before I condemn them to some sort of eternal punishment, but the thought does run through my mind.

Choosing mercy is like not letting your child play on the iPad all day. It sure would be easier to go the iPad all day route just like it would be easier to get mad, angry and out of control. Choosing mercy is a disciple though that does not seek selfish reward, but seeks the well being of another first. Choosing mercy requires a strength that goes beyond ourselves.

Jesus provides this pathway in Luke 10. He provides a pathway to a different kind of mercy. A different approach towards healing. A different approach toward teaching. A different approach in purpose. A different approach in living.

 

The importance of Identifying with the why instead of the what:

Identifying with my children is one way that I can choose mercy versus judgement. I will can best explain it by sharing an experience from my sons’ life.  Both my boys have something called Sensory Processing Disorder. It is a learning disorder that impacts their daily lives. One of my sons is severely impacted by SPD. He had a rough day yesterday; I had to find a way to choose mercy. One of those ways was being able to identify with him in his pain and frustration. We watched this video together.

As we watched this video we began to talk through his daily pains and experiences. It helped us move beyond the symptoms of his problems and help get to some of the roots of them. As I identified with his experience it became easier to choose mercy.

Leading them to something greater helps us choose mercy.

My son gets very frustrated because he has this condition. He says that beautiful phrase that all people say at some point in life, “I just want to be normal.” It was here that I could explain the beauty of the gospel. That the Father has crafted you in his image and you are beautiful to him. That Jesus came because he knew you were hurting and needed someone to offer you a greater hope. And that the Spirit is going to lead you on a journey that will take this beautiful young man God has created and do wonders.

Pastor Dad

Not sure he understood all of it. It is the problem with having a pastor dad. This is some of the stuff we are going to be talking about next Sunday at church. Join us on March 30th if you can.

Voices

I hear many voices in my mind these days. Don’t worry I am fairly sure they are all real voices (fairly sure). They are all the voices competing for mental energy, and more specifically my time. I get them from work, I get them from family, I get them from friends and the loudest ones come from inside myself. Lately, they have been seeming to get louder and louder.

One of the opening scenes of the new Superman movie has a young Clark Kent failing to control all of his super hero abilities. He is caught off guard by them and they conflict with one another in his mind. They are all incredible attributes but when out of control in the body they are disabling. This is what it feels like during times when life seems out of control.

I believe it is because we all have these different voices, or distractions if that makes you more comfortable, that we have been given the gift of prayer from God. There are at least three ways that prayer provides us relief from the daily noise.

First, prayer calls us to a quiet and silent place.
This is one of the most valuable instructions given to us from Jesus. Even before he models how we should pray he reminds us where we should pray. We should never ignore the physical example set by Christ. He was constantly retreating to alone places and spaces in order to silence the voices of the crowds and disciples. We not only are called to follow Jesus mentally and spiritually but all physically. We gain tremendous benefit when we withdrawal from the noise of daily life.

Second, prayer calls us to be aware of the moment. Prayer is meant to draw our attention to the two most important things we do with our days. The first of those is to love God. The first half of The Lord’s prayer draws us towards the plans, the holiness, and the personality of God. It reminds us that nothing is so great in our life that God cannot help walk us through it. He delights in us and is doing tremendous things with our lives. He is in the business of making our lives count for his glory’s sake.

The second is that prayer teaches us to handle all of the people around us. When we are lost with how to love someone God teaches us to take it to him in prayer. Even more than this though he gives categories to consider. Do we need to forgive, do we need to be thankful, do we need to self examine, or do we need to refocus? The beauty of prayer is that it can become the radically most practical thing you can do when you are overwhelmed by what to do next.

Finally, prayer reminds us that God is never surprised by what happens in our life. Some people might find it frustrating that God knows every ounce of our prayer life even before we pray. He doesn’t need to hear our to prayers because he already knows him. This leads many not to pray. However, I would contend that the most beautiful way that God imparts his love to us is by being so incredibly predictable.

Think of the husband leaving for work in the morning and he leaves by telling his children and wife that he loves them. Then he quickly hears the response back from them. In many ways it will be the most comforting thing he hears all day even though they all knew it was true without anyone having to say it. However, what happens when the “I love you” statements don’t come back? What if your family didn’t respond back to you? It is almost chilling to think about. So much reassurance and love is communicated when the answer is already known but the question is asked anyway. There is great hope in the predictable.

So when the daily voices and distractions come remember to take a moment, clear your head, and draw near to your Heavenly Father.