My mind filled with stories and scripture and memories of God’s mercy to me.
“Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?"
The parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:23-35)
“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord how often should I forgive someone
who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
“Really?” I whined, “What about my rights? My money? My…”
Jesus reminded me, “I left heaven for you. I gave up my rights that you might live.” Then this verse came to mind:
“… If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow."
“WHAT?! You want me to not only make allowance for the late payment – again, but I’m also supposed to bring him a gift?” I resisted. Oh! My mind filled with worry – what if he sees this vulnerability as something to take advantage of? What if he demands concessions forever? What if …?
“It’s my account.” He spoke to my heart.
God asked me to settle it with mercy - the kind of mercy He's doled out to me
You know, sometimes I actually think I'm an okay person. Then God reveals to me how prideful and selfish I am, and I'm humbled. Thank you Jesus, for loving me enough to humble me. ... repeatedly.
Anyway, here's how it went down.
Still feeling pouty, I retreated to a dark room to talk to Jesus.
"Thank you for this answered prayer. I will give joyfully. I've prayed for opportunity to demonstrate your love and here it is. Thank you for providing for him - and for me. Jesus, you know I have no idea how to pay our bills without that money. But you do. Lord, please minister to his heart and allow him to see your hand. Let him see you, not me. Thank you Jesus."
We packed up the family and drove off. As we parked in front of his home, my stomach twisted. What would he say? Would he reject the gift? Scoff at me? My husband walked with me, carrying the gift bag of groceries. I rang the doorbell, and waited.
The door opened, and there he stood - hunched and swollen. He feigned a smile, but that seemed to take too much effort. He rubbed his arms and swayed slightly, as though to stand still was excruciating. I suddenly felt small and petty.
"I'm sorry for the harsh way I spoke to you before," I told him. "God has ..."
"Come in, come in," he waved his hand.
"Thank you, God has shown me a lot of mercy, and I should do the same."
We would wait until he could manage paying his account.
"We brought you a gift," my husband added.
As we drove away, a tear fell as I compared my concerns with his.
He worries every day about his wild teenager who could be anywhere tonight.
He aches and hurts all the time.
He spent the weekend in the hospital, hooked up to painful machines that could hopefully extend his life and reduce his pain.
He can't pay his bills.
He's alone in his suffering.
God caused our paths to cross for His Glory. There is opportunity here to build up the kingdom of God - my humility is a great place to start. And while I have prayed for this man and his teen, I haven't desperately sought God in it - it was just a casual, in-passing kind of thing. But I am heavy-hearted for this man before my God. ... and for his wandering teen.
It's an answer to my prayers that the account could not be paid as expected. Because of it,
- my eyes are opened to my own pride and selfishness and I'm humbled.
- my heart is open to consider someone else's hardship.
- I must trust God's provision to make up the difference of what was not paid.
- I'm compelled to seriously petition God on behalf of him and his teen.
- I am brought to the throne again.
- God is glorified.
- He has answered my continued prayer for opportunity, humility, and a heart for others.
Thank you Jesus! Please continue to shape me – to open my eyes and heart. Cause your love and light to shine through me. Lord, I don’t understand your ways but I thank you that I get to have a part in building your kingdom. . .even if my part is to apologize or give more than I think I can. Amen.
(By the way - last night as we sat down to see how on earth we would pay our bills, God came through, providing just enough pay the mortgage. We’ll squeak by, but we won’t miss a payment. God is good.)
Want to hear more from Kim? Go visit her at From The Heart Online. Also, be sure to stop by and check out Kim's book, Beauty In Darkness.
Kim states “A local book tour is in the works – only 10-12 events are planned so far, but I hope to raise $10-20,000 for Gospel For Asia.” For more on the story of her path to publication, visit http://www.fromtheheartonline.net/2010/11/its-not-what-i-can-do.html.