Hope you’ve had a wonderful week. Mine did not start out that great, but grace upon grace is the story of my life, so things have gotten better.
Before I tell you what happened, you should know about Hazel. Hazel was the class pet for Sam’s first grade class. Like all the children in the class, Sam loved Hazel and was ecstatic to sign up to bring her home for a weekend. The anticipation of this special weekend was an event in itself.
“Is it this Friday I get to bring Hazel home?”
“No, Sweet Boy, a couple more weeks.”
But the weekend eventually came and we brought Hazel the guinea pig home from school. I cannot tell you how disruptive this was to my personal shalom. I was worried sick that we would lose or somehow kill Hazel. Monday morning could not come quickly enough and I felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders to deliver the class pet safely back to school.
I am now wishing that my Hazel anxiety would’ve kicked in last week. It would have been good for me to remember how inept I am, how my concern over Hazel’s well being was in no way irrational. When animals depend on me for life, then yes it is appropriate for anxiety levels to surge. Tragically, they did not. I was asked to see after animals, and somehow Hazel didn’t even come to mind. Instead, I said, “Sure.” It’s right there in my text: an unequivocal commitment to look after animals. But did I remember to close the hatch on the chicken coop? No. No, I did not. Instead, I sat on my front porch, watched the storm roll in, and did not think a single second about letting the cat in or making sure the chickens were safe.
I woke up the next morning and remembered, but it was too late. I walked over and let the kitty in, and then strolled nonchalantly over to the coop. I could not believe what I was seeing. I felt sick and embarrassed and ashamed and like the complete loser that I am. The coop was in a state of disrepair and the chickens were no more.
How would you like to send the text to the owners? Uhh, I know you haven’t been gone twenty-four hours, but I’ve already managed to get your chickens murdered.
Last week I posted about Sam’s sweet humble spirit, his sober assessment of himself. In contrast, I’m wondering if I have utterly humiliating experiences like Tuesday morning because I am prone to think of myself too highly? Romans 12:3 plainly says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Do I need to be knocked down every whipstitch? Or as Sam often quotes from Mrs. Doubtfire, “Do I need a few light slams every now and then?” I know for sure that embarrassing episodes occur in my life more than yours, and it doesn’t matter who you are. Am I just a slow learner?
But there’s another spiritual truth at work here too. In Luke 7:47, referring to a sinful woman, Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
The demise of the chickens was met with incredible grace. I loved these neighbors of mine before, but when you are forgiven much, you love much. And I madly love these dear, grace-filled neighbors of mine.
I hope you too know both sides of this equation. I hope you’ve had occasion to forgive something big, and that your heart has grown because you’ve been forgiven. It’s not a hashtag. It’s not a motto. It’s not an empty declaration that love trumps hate. It’s actually forgiving someone who wrongs you. It’s actually owning that you suck, and then loving your forgiver.
May we all love and forgive with reckless abandon this weekend and always, and may we know that each and every breath is grace upon grace.