“I’m sorry, Mom, I’m sorry! It was an accident… my hand just slipped because I was so tired… I know you must be really mad at me.”
I was standing only ten feet away when my son knocked the glass bowl off the counter that morning. I turned my head just in time to see fragments of glass and uneaten cereal scatter across the kitchen floor. That instant of shame and fear seemed to make my six-foot-tall son cower down like a toddler. I guess he was expecting an angry response with shouting, shaming and blaming. Sweet Jeffery has been our son for over seven years now, and he’s still figuring out how different things are from his past. However, we each are so far from being perfect parents, and this incident reminded me just how much I need mercy.
My actual reaction that day shocked and disarmed him… but I didn’t do it by myself. Jeffery seems to be in a hurry a lot, and often acts carelessly and without thinking. This was not the first dish he’d broken. My immediate human response was to remind him how many times he’d broken something because he wouldn’t slow down and pay attention. I wanted to lecture and prove my point. Jeffery would have rolled his eyes, thrown up his hands, and made another promise to do better. We could both write the script by now.
Thankfully, the still, small voice of God spoke immediately to my heart before a word could escape my mouth:
God said, “How many times, Becky, have I cleaned up YOUR messes?”
I was instantly humbled, hearing clearly what God wanted me to remember in that moment. I cannot count how many times the Lord has rescued me from messes I was in, whether by someone else’s actions — or my own. It was like hearing Jesus say, “He who is without sin among you, let him (or her) cast the first stone,” as he shut the mouths of the judgmental men about to stone the prostitute. Jesus loved her just as she was, but loved her enough to rescue her from the situation, forgiving her sin, and admonishing her to “go your way and sin no more”. He gave her a clean start – He didn’t leave her in a mess. (Read the incredible account in John 8: 1-11)
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I quietly instructed Jeffery to get a new bowl — a plastic one, please, and get some more cereal, and I would clean up the mess. “Thanks, Mom. I’m really sorry,” he repeated, obviously relieved that I showed mercy and not judgment. I got the broom and started to work while he ate breakfast and got off to school.
1st Peter 4:8 conveys this liberating truth: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Boy, that’s good news! Actually, “Gospel” means “good news”. That’s the Gospel: That a perfect, holy God and Creator sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind by dying a cruel death on a cross. Then Jesus was raised from the dead, proving that His sacrifice was accepted — that we could be forgiven — and thereby offering eternal life to all who put their faith and trust in Him, turn from their sins, and follow Him. How can we resist a love like that? A loving God Who cherishes us too much to leave us in the mess we’re in? Wow! (I love my baby, but I‘ll sure not leave him in that dirty diaper, for example!)
Thank You, Lord, for all the times You’ve given me a new start, covered my sin, forgiven every stupid thing I’ve done, repaired my damage, and restored me to health – spiritually, emotionally, and physically. After all the times I’ve made bad decisions, said hurtful things when I was tired, frustrated, in a hurry or distracted, You still welcome me back with open arms when I turn to You for forgiveness. You love me more than I love my own children. Please continue to teach me how to love them (and my spouse, my friends, my co-workers) the way You do. Amen.