This is Part 5 of our series What to do When the Church Lets You Down. You can see all the posts here.
As I sit on the bathroom toilet, door slammed shut and the lock turned, sobbing, I feel His gentle nudge and hear His tender voice.
Go and ask for forgiveness.
On the other side of this door squats my toddler refusing to pick up the beads he spilled. Willful disobedience showing through like a bright ray of sunshine piercing my eyes no matter which way I turn.
Flashes from mere moments before race through my mind.
I lost my patience. I yelled. No I screamed. I picked him up. I took him to my bed and let him tumble onto the sheets while everything raged within me. I was angry. I was appalled. I was so totally over it. I made sure he knew it.
Now I sit on the other side of a finger smudged door, a barrier of sin between child and mother, and yet I feel a gentle nudge to go and seek my baby’s forgiveness.
I deserve to be beaten with a stick, the beads thrown in my face, and my words to be slammed shut like a vault with no way for me to leave allowing them to reverberate in a chorus around me. I don’t deserve forgiveness. My actions should torment me, condemn me, shame me.
But they don’t.
Oh sweet, Jesus, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
I am forgiven.
Jesus giving me what I do not deserve in this moment like He has done time and time again in time’s past and like He will again in time’s future.
People like me fill our churches.
It’s no wonder we can’t get along. It’s no wonder we struggle to love one another, fail to extend to one another the same mercy and grace the Lord extends to us day-in and day-out.
We’re a people hard to love because our hearts are ugly, soiled, tattered and beaten. We’re works in progress seeking to live each day for His glory and each day failing.
But instead of receiving what we deserve, He extends His nail scarred hands and says, “Come to me.”
When the church fails us, is this our same invitation? Our same posture? The same humility?
When the church lets us down, it would do us well to remember two words:
Jesus tells the Pharisees just after He called Matthew, his disciple (my emphasis added):
Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. -Matthew 9:13; cf, Hosea 6:6
If you’re in a place where the church has let you down, I give you Jesus’ call.
Go and learn what He means when He says, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”
It is in understanding mercy we encounter grace.
I open the door and there sits my toddler, right where I left him. Staring back at me with eyes wide open, confused, and yet there in his eyes I see Jesus. I see hope and an invitation.
Reconcile with me, Mommy?
I gather him in my arms. I kiss his tear stained cheeks, and I tell him I’m sorry. I ask him to forgive me. He smiles, places a hand on each side of my face, and says, “Want to play trucks, Mommy?”
The forgiveness of a child – free, full, instant.
Just like the forgiveness of Jesus – paid for, complete, and available.
When was a time you experienced undeserved mercy and grace?
Please note, dear reader, I did not touch my son in the above scenario. I was merely yelling, which is equally as bad in my opinion. But I don’t want to leave room here for assumptions.
Part 6 – Sometimes We Have to Separate