Say “yes” to an invitation and you have been robbed of your freedom. All other options for that evening have been ripped away. What if a better invitation comes along? Too bad, you are beholden to something else. Decisions, indeed, exclude.
“The Constructive Displeasure of Mercy.” What a curious title! I find it so mysterious—and intriguing. How is mercy a “displeasure”? Usually we think of mercy as extending our hand to someone who is powerless, and that is a good thing. But David Powlison tackles it from a different angle: extending mercy when you have been unjustly and wrongly attacked. In that situation, mercy can be a sting and a great “displeasure.” Yet mercy, instead of anger or retaliation, is the constructive way forward.
I took a bang to the head a little while ago and have had headaches ever since. I am not thankful for the headaches. I don’t think they are “good,” and I certainly don’t want anyone to tell me that they are for my best.
I am also trying to think God’s thoughts about this.
After accepting a CEO position at a non-profit, in which he could make or break the organization’s future, he said, “I believe that one of the great comforts of the gospel is the freedom to fail.” I heard this echoed recently by a friend when he made a somewhat risky vocational decision. Though he struggles with the opinions of others, he was able to say: “the worst I can do is fail.” He smiled as he said it, and I rejoiced in his spiritual maturity, which clearly surpasses my own.
If you hear yourself say, “I am such a burden to _________ [my family, friends, loved ones, the world],” you are in danger. Your mind will go to very dark places, and you are developing immunity to the encouragement of both other people and Scripture. For example, you will hear others say that they are happy to serve you, yet you do not believe it. Instead, you believe their lives would be much easier and, therefore, better if you were gone.
If people are not telling you that you are a burden, why do you feel that way?
We settle for too little. It is so easy to set the bar at mere obedience. Do right. Do right in the midst of temptations. Do right in suffering. These are certainly good, but when we know Jesus, we know there is more—we know there is joy.
Of all the names for God, “Father” is the most important. Yes, the Lord is King, and when you sense that life is out of control you are certainly comforted to know that he has kingly authority and control, but Father is better. When Jesus revealed the Kingdom of Heaven to us he taught a radical new way to pray—“Our Father . . .”