Friday, January 25, 2013

Compassion In The Mess

(For those who don't have time to watch, this is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Compassion In The Mess”.)

Fly fishing in a nearby stream, an odd question popped into my brain that I’d never heard before: “Son, if in the next moment you were to join me in heaven, what would you expect?”

I quickly shuffled the thought to a far off place, and got back to the more important focus of fooling trout.  However, the same question returned two more times before I finally dignified it.

Thinking about what I would truly expect upon my arrival in heaven, a curious realization crept across my mind.  On the faces of those gathered in welcome, I would expect to see a hint of disappointment.

Yes, I know about the rich welcome awaiting the faithful upon arrival home—“Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness.”  But I was startled to realize that I didn’t think I’d be getting that rousing reception—or at least not THAT rousing. 

I don’t always do so well in this life.  I regularly get stuff wrong, needlessly offend people, or fail to act in keeping with the man I am in Christ.  Whether I know it immediately or find out about it later, failure weighs me down.  It bothers me.  (You too?)  And then I begin thinking about all the work I have to do to make things better or to make myself better.  I’ve proven, however, that I’m not very good at saving myself.

Anyway, in my mind I heard something like this: “I know how difficult it is in the world.  I know how very awful it can be.  Do you think I have no compassion for you, my righteous son?  Do you think I don’t know of your anguish and valiant struggle in the fight between flesh and spirit?  I am so pleased in your triumphs and rejoice in your success!  I love how you are and how you do.  Fear not your homecoming—it will be triumphant.”

There on the stream I choked up and laughed a laugh of relief and renewed hope.  “He is really compassionate!” I thought.  “He really understands and delights in the smallest success, valuing it far more than the ugliest defeat, which He wipes clean as He looks upon me with joy and delight.  He really loves me in the mess.”

I had a great afternoon.  I was overwhelmed by the compassion He has for me (and for you) right now in this life, in every trial, in every struggle, in every messy mess.  And  I caught a bunch of trout.  You can ask my wife and daughters if you don’t believe me.  Really.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,…” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

“In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.”  (1 John 4:17-19)

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