Thursday, May 9, 2013

To love mercy...

This blog post has been rattling around in my head all week. How can I best convey how moved I was at the Devoted Hearts Conference in Rochester, MN a week and a half ago? I thought at first that I needed to ponder it, think it through, sort through my notes, my memories and the impact on my heart. And THEN, I would be able to pontificate and write this post that left you, my dear readers, feeling exactly the same.

But I have typed. I have erased. I have typed some more. And for the life of me, I am not sure I can get the message across.

"...And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

One of the many bright spots of my time in Minnesota -- loving on my niece, Moriah! 

The conference centered around this verse from Micah. Speakers Jen Hatmaker, Kelly Minter and musician Laura Story spent the day and a half conference unpacking what justice, mercy and humility look like in a Christian's life. If they are in your area, I highly (highly highly) recommend you carve out the time to hear them!

As we began Friday night, I was already emotional. I had spent time in the afternoon with my brother, sister-in-law and precious niece who I adore! Then just sitting at the conference surrounded by the women who lived life with me during our training years was pure joy. These were women who raised their preschoolers alongside me and mine; the women who carried their families while Dad was working crazy long hours, just as I was carrying mine...and so my heart was full before a song was sung or a word was spoken from the stage.

And then Jen Hatmaker began to speak. She pored truth after truth. I could have listened to her for hours. And when she challenged us to be transformed by following Jesus so closely that we become a copy of Him, I felt a deep movement in my heart.

And then she boldly proclaimed that Bible study without transformation is NOT discipleship. The only thing needed by the disciple, she said, is to be like his teacher. Oh. And if we are claiming to be disciples of Jesus, we are to extend mercy and truth. Did you catch that? Not just truth but also, mercy.

I have pondered this all week. I have looked up the word MERCY in my Webster's: 

1. compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender; 2. a blessing that is an act of compassion, 3. compassionate treatment of those in distress.

Compassion. Compassion. Compassion.

This. This is what I have been struggling with for months. How does this look today? How do we live compassion -- an awareness of other people's distress with a desire to alleviate it (Thank you, Webster's.)? How do we live desiring to alleviate other people's distress??

Ronda, me, Shelly and Avery. My heart was full just being surrounded by women who had encouraged me all our years in Rochester.

You may remember from my post here that an issue affecting special needs hit my Facebook and email feeds a few months ago (and continuing) that hurt my heart. Rarely does my little family find ourselves in the midst of controversy. Oh, we have issues and sin in our lives, but the masses do not seem to attack us for our brand of sin from public domains. However, the fight to stop the United States from ratifying  the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities dropped us right in the path of controversy.

Talking to Jen about adoption between sessions. And crying a bit.

And as we were bombarded with organizations we belong to urging us to call our senators to object the ratification through email and Facebook, I could not help but read: WE HATE ALL PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. It was as if we were constantly being yelled at. It was awful. Awful. And it did not feel like a political issue that was global in scope -- no, it felt like a personal issue between each group and my little family. Personal hatred. Really. That is how it felt.

And so, though most of these were Christian organizations I felt no compassion. I felt no mercy. And I felt strongly that everything I say out loud -- written, verbal, status-wise -- should be re-evaluated. Do I reflect Jesus? Do my words leave others feeling loved rather than condemned?

Because in my head, I so clearly see John 8: The Pharisees have brought a woman to Jesus, a woman accused of adultery. They remind Jesus that the law says she must be stoned. Jesus bends down and begins drawing in the sand before saying, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." He then returns to his writing in the sand as the Pharisees turn and walk away. Then Jesus turns to the woman asking where the ones condemning her have gone? Before he looks at her and says, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

Posing for a photo with Jen Hatmaker -- me, Jen, Avery, and Kelly.

I have to believe that because He stood with her when others condemned her, because He protected her before she ever indicated she might turn from her sin, that she was willing to do what He said and strive to sin no more.

Grace-filled women. Women who exude mercy and walk humbly with God. Such gifts.

The Bible does not give us examples of how to use the Internet, Facebook and even blogs. But we do have John 8. Jesus stood with the sinner. Jesus protected the sinner. Jesus refused to condemn the sinner.  

Increasingly, I believe the attack I felt by my "people" regarding the Treaty for Disabled Persons was to teach me about mercy -- to teach me that a sentence typed into the status bar on Facebook can be harmful.  Perhaps it was to teach me that when we take an issue -- any issue -- and rant and rave and demand action, we are alienating someone. We are hurting someone. We are diminishing someone's worth. 

I see Jesus writing in the sand.

Robin (who loved us all enough to organize and host the reunion), myself and our Deb (my first Bible Study leader in Minnesota.).

I digressed pretty far here -- trust me that I was not quoting Jen or any of the other amazing speakers and the way they moved me might not have even been their intention. But, their words did move me and motivated me to seek truths about what mercy and justice look like for myself. To research and digest the scripture passage and to take apart how I think it should look in my life.

Shelly, Avery, myself and Deb -- iron sharpens iron. So grateful for these three!

The bottom line for me: Mercy. Mercy. I believe to love mercy IS to act justly and walk humbly with God. I can not imagine that any of the three can be separated and maintained independently. I am incapable of compassion if I am not walking humbly with God -- realizing that by His grace alone can I accomplish anything. Pride in my own abilities negates compassion. And my friends, pride in our belief that we are RIGHT on a subject also negates compassion every single time. Every. Single. Time.

May we find the blessing of standing in compassion with each other rather than in condemnation. Wouldn't that really impact the world??


charla said...


elissa said...

Wow, great post!
First of all, Jen hatmaker - love her. So much.
Second, what's this treaty for disabled persons? I have yet to hear about it! Is there a link you can share with us?

K said...

I love your words. Thank you.