Picture a room—make it a large room. We’ll make it fifty feet by fifty feet. We’re going to finish it in hardwood—cherry. Color doesn’t matter, but we’ll shellac it and wax several times it until it has a perfect finish. Mark out some roadways along the floor. They have to be just wide enough for you and maybe one other person to pass each other by on. Next we’ll take some building blocks and build all sorts of buildings along those roadways. Add some trees, shrubs, flowering bushes—whatever tickles your fancy to make it pretty.
We’ll name our little room-sized town now. Oh, say—Roomville. Now we’re going to fill it with children and let them run about at will with the admonition that they cannot stray off of the roads.
This is where we come in. we’re going to put on some nice fluffy socks. Next we’re going to get a barrel of mud—so big we can barely pick it up. Now we have to navigate around this room filled with children without hitting them, hitting the buildings, running off the roads, knocking over trees, plowing through the flowers, and most of all we can’t spill the mud. Did I mention that all the children are on a sugar buzz to beat all sugar buzzes? They’re going to run out in front of you and stop dead to turn onto side streets. They will rush up behind you and holler at you to make way for them since you’re going so slowly. They will run into each other and knock each other about in front of you.
Sound silly? Well, it’s not meant to be. It’s what I do on a daily basis. See, I drive a concrete truck and this is what I go through each day. Cars that cut in front of me and slam on their brakes to make a right turn onto a side street. Cars that cut out of parking lots into the lane I’m in and then accelerate slowly. Cars that run behind me with the driver leaning on his horn because I’m slowing him down. I could go on and on.
But I’m a professional driver. I have to avoid them, avoid their houses, avoid their trees, flowerbeds, shrubs, whatever. And still get my load to its location on time and without spilling a drop—even if I’d really love to slam on my brakes and turn that little zoom-zoom into a birdbath (I drive a front-loading concrete truck. That means the hole is in front—so if I lock up my brakes, the mud will come glurping out on top of anything in front of me).
Proverbs 16:32 — He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Alas, I have a temper. As much as I’d love to say I live by that verse from Proverbs, more often than not, I’m leaning hard on my air horn and glaring at other drivers around me. “What is wrong with you? Is the Spirit of Stupidcoming upon you?” Let’s be realistic here—my truck does weigh in at eighty-thousand pounds when loaded. It will do zero-to-sixty . . . eventually—but it does not stop on a dime.
Fortunately, there is One Who has more patience and mercy than I.
Psalms 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
Exodus 34:6-7 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
I am quite thankful for this. If He wasn’t, there would have been a smoking crater from a bolt of lightening where I’m standing long ago.
Where do I go from here? And you—where are you with mercy and patience? Snapped at anyone lately? Leaned on the horn? Hung up on a telemarketer? (Although, they can be fun. “I think I need more friends. I don’t need what your selling, but will you be my friend?” Or perhaps you can be the one bit of Light in their life and lead them to the LORD!)
I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone. Hardly. I am far from perfect. Anytime I start thinking I am, I merely have to try to walk across the dog’s water bowl. Y’know what? To date that has only gotten me wet feet.
I’ll close with one verse from the Old Testament and two from the New forall of us to dwell on.
Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Shalom u’vrachah – Peace and the Blessing