Looks can be deceiving. My grandfather John Nold got polio when he was young…it left him somewhat crippled. Every memory I have of him includes a cane and a shoe with a steel leg brace. He didn’t get around too fast or too well…but he knew how to use that cane. More than once I thought I was getting away with something only to be caught by the hook at the end of his cane. But even more than using a cane, my grandfather knew how to tell a story. I remember going out to his trailer before school. I would sit with him and watch for the bus. I was probably 7 or 8. He would give me coffee and tell me a story.
All sorts of stories he would tell, the ones I enjoyed most were his road-adventure stories; following the harvest, riding the rail, meals with hobos. As a young boy there wasn’t much better than Grandpa’s stories. Through them my Grandpa left me a bit of wanderlust. As I grew up I found that my favorite stories had to do with the adventure of the journey, the freedom of the road. I dreamed for about Huck Fin and his river raft. I even tried to build one — couldn’t get it to float. My favorite show was and still is Star Trek and it’s “on going mission” to seek out adventure and knowledge at the edge of the universe. (Loved the new movie by the way.) This wanderlust hasn’t always confined itself to the safer activities of the mind. In college I hitchhiked home once. 200 miles in a light rain on the back of a Harley Davidson with a guy who stopped about every 20 miles for a Budweiser. I learned to pray on the back of that Harley with an urgency that I had not known in a prayer meeting.
Anyway as a kid I idolized Grandpa’s life on the road. It seemed like such a life of freedom and adventure. As I grew older and a little more perceptive, I came to realize that his life was not quite so glamorous. His life on the road was really the journey of an alcoholic abandoning his family, leaving home for long periods of time.
His adventures were tales of a crippled man desperately running while being hopelessly imprisoned. Like he was always desperately seeking something just out of reach.
A number of years ago when I read this quote by Gilbert Bilzekian, I thought… “You know I think that was at the heart of my grandpa’s journey. Bilzekian wrote,
“The silent churning at the core of our being is the tormenting need to know and be known, to understand & be understood,…to belong unconditionally and forever without fear of loss, betrayal or rejection.”
See what my grandfather was seeking…what we all are seeking is a love that soars. Guys, we are looking for a Band of brothers who will watch my back and press me forward for a greater goal. Ladies, aren’t you looking for a friend who is closer than a sister. We want to know that we are not outside the boundaries of love. When we get married we are hoping that we have found someone out there can love me as I am. Our kids are looking for parents with whom they can be real and not fear rejection or ridicule. We’re looking for a love so great that it will change us…make us better than we are…or could ever be alone. But the problem is…sometimes we feel like that love is beyond us — we’re searching but not finding, trying but not becoming — like something is holding us back from soaring — keeping us locked up.
That’s why James words in James 2 really grab me. You will have to read the whole context or listen to my whole sermon (just click —
What James is saying here is that none of us measure up to this kind of love and none of us can love without messing up. When it comes to the higher calling — when it comes to a love that soars — all of us get grounded — all of us get messed up. So what do we do? James says — there is a law that will set us free.
If we want to soar with a higher calling of love…we must embrace the law that sets us free. We must embrace the law of mercy. James 2:13 “So speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been
merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” James 2:12-13
We must let those words roll around in our hearts. Let them saturate your world and change the way you look at life. This is not a unity vs. truth law…this is a practical love law. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy beats judgment. If life is a game of poker, a hand of mercy beats a hand of judgment every time. If life is a journey mercy is the gps and judgment is the wrong direction. Mercy is the air that gives flight to our dreams and judgment is the ballast that keeps us from soaring.
Mercy — what is mercy? Mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is showing compassion. Mercy is helping those who are in need. In the Old Testament of the Bible, it is often translated as “lovingkindness.”
What would it look like in your life, if you embraced the law of mercy? Where do you need mercy extended in your life? To whom in your life do you need to extend mercy?
Like crippled people desperately running, we embrace the law of mercy and become dancing cripples.