Monday, December 27, 2010

Mercy: The Ability to See

"Tell Graham to see."

During her last lucid moments, Graham's wife exhorts him with those words in the movie Signs. In the end, Graham does indeed see. He sees the reason for his son's asthma; he sees the reason for his wife's death; he sees the reason for his brother's athletic abilities and his daughter's preoccupation with water. Ultimately, this film by M. Night Shyamalan is about God's providence. God does not owe us a window into His providential workings. But every once in a while, He gives us one.

Mercy is a gift. And I think it is a gift because it is the ability to see. Only God's elect can possess true mercy because only God's elect know they have stood on the brink of judgment themselves. Only God's elect have smelled the smoke on their clothes, seen the flames in all their horrific clarity, and felt the heat reach up and try to take them. Only God's elect know, truly know, the depravity of their own souls and know that their just dessert is that Pit. Only God's elect know that God has reached down and given their punishment to His son, instead imputing His righteousness onto them.

There is a subset of God's elect who cannot help but remember what they have seen and smelled and felt. And their passion is to rescue others from the same brink. Their hearts break for the lost because they see what exists over the edge. So, in terms of eternity, these gentle mercy-givers have great compassion for lost souls. And temporally, they are a stop-gap for all the pain that exists between birth and death.

I think the best mercy-giver understands justice as well as a prophet does. They see what awaits us on the other side. They understand what it will take to satisfy the Father's wrath for every sin, and they dearly want everyone to escape that fate. But they also understand that justice requires that His wrath be satisfied, that each payment be made in full. They understand that mercy in no way replaces justice. Rather, it transfers the responsibility of payment to another. But, one way or another, the debt to our Creator will be paid. Mercy seeks a way for that transfer to take place.

So, lately, I am reminding myself to see.
See what I deserve.
See what I've been spared.
See the others who need to avoid that same fate.

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