Sometimes I am overcome by the mercy of God. Other times, I am a moron.
A few days ago I was tired when I came home to my AWESOME family. My hyper-active two year old wanted to play outside and my wife looked like she could use some house time, so I took Julia outside (she’s not really hyper-active and I always feel like the hero when I get to do these kinds of things).
She bounced and giggled. My feet hurt. She told me to swing her, then scolded me for swinging her too high. “No, Daddy! I don’t like higher!” I had a slight head ache. She pushed her little puppy down the slide and then tried to make me go down it. (The physical properties of her plastic play slide cannot withstand the 215 pounds of Daddy.) I was annoyed. She then wanted to see the horses… so we walked down and watched our neighbor practicing roping with his horses. She wanted to see the bull and the donkey, so we walked the other direction to see the donkey. I wasn’t wearing shoes that were good for walking… my feet hurt more. I was tired, remember? So when she wanted to go swing again, I told her, “Daddy’s tired, let’s go inside and get some tea.” She threw a minor fit, but acquiesced quite quickly to the change in plan. As I walked her into the house I was feeling tired and a little frustrated that I had not sat down to breathe, so I began to complain to God in my head.
“Lord, I’m so tired! Can’t you just calm her down for a few moments and make her play by herself!? And why is her nap between 1 and 4!? While I’m at work!? And I know I’m going to have to cook dinner tonight!? And my wife is tired!? Why did You wake me up last night!? I know it was You! You woke me up and said nothing!”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone on the street… when I saw him a pain hit my chest and I realized, I was being a moron. I don’t know if he was real, or if God just let me imagine him. The strained and haggard look on his face rocked me at my core. I watched as the man was struggling to move his wheel chair down the street. He clearly had one bad hand and was carrying some groceries home from the local grocery store.
It suddenly occurred to me: I can walk. All this time, I’d been able to walk and pick up my daughter. We played in a yard that I own, on a swing that I was able to hang between two trees that are mine. We played on a slide that I own, in the back yard of my house… that I own. I’d led her about 50 yards down the street to watch the horses and then back 70 yards to see the big long horn bull and donkey! Who else lives next door to a veritable free zoo!? (Seriously, occasionally there are peacocks, raccoons, armadillos, and other odd creatures around our house. And we live two blocks from a grocery store and ten minutes from the mall!)
When God woke me up the night before, I had not tried to listen. I did not take out my Bible, I did not pray, didn’t even ask Him to help me go back to sleep. In frustration I rolled over muttering something about needing more sleep. In my selfish state, I had missed out on all the joy that was lavished on me.
I think this describes me more often then not. I am a man who God lavishes mercy on and most of the time I don’t even notice. We should always be overcome by His mercy.
I remember a story a missionary told me once. He said he had been robbed while in an African country and they had taken his shoes. The ground was mostly dirt and rock roads and shoes were a necessary commodity for him. He began to complain to God about the shoes. He didn’t realize he was complaining out loud when he passed a beggar who yelled, “at least you still have feet!” He spun around in anger ready to berate this arrogant buffoon who would dare to speak to him this way! Then he saw the beggar… he had no feet. Holding his cup up, he said, “at least you have your feet.” My missionary friend put some money in the cup and walked on… ashamed.
I walked inside and my wife had prepared dinner. I still have my feet.