Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment … And Regret

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I’ve been praying for Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll all morning.

Specifically, I pray he resists the urge to turn on the radio, read the news, get on the internet or in any way internalize what I imagine is a ruthless beating from every armchair quarterback on earth – particularly those with the gift of perfect hindsight – who are saying in unison:

“Who throws the ball on second and one, inches from the goal line, with 20 seconds left in the Superbowl – especially when everybody knows Marshawn Lynch can drag six linemen at least five yards?”

Don’t you think he’s playing that same record in his head? People please. There is no pain, like the pain of regret and nobody can possibly feel that more acutely today than Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson.

I don’t even care about football, but I care about mercy and I know something about regret.

Once, years ago, I was riding my horse in a performance. There were 20 of us or so in the arena in front of 1500 people. We were all riding bareback with no bridles, and like we’d rehearsed, we were about to canter around at the same time. If you’ve ever ridden a horse bareback and bridleless in a herd of other horses with no bridles, you know it’s either really impressive or a horrible train wreck.

Well, I was nervous and evidently not listening when the Big Chief changed his mind and picked ONE PERSON to ride his horse around as the rest of us stood still.

So when he said go, off I went, just me and the chosen guy. Big Chief had to stop, correct me and then refocus the crowd on what a wonderful job Chosen Guy was doing.

OMG. I died a thousand deaths in front of that crowd, and for a week I couldn’t look anybody in the eye. Clearly I was showing off, grandstanding and obviously defying the fairly authoritarian Big Chief. Now, all that stuff was kind of true of me at the time, but in this circumstance, I just made a mistake, in front of thousands of people.

Oh how I longed for that 90 seconds back. I ached for it. Regret sets your guts on fire and since there is no time travel, it just burns.

But I know something now, I didn’t then and it’s what I’m praying for Pete Carroll.

I know now I am a complete fool and there’s no sense trying to hide it.

In fact, there is amazing freedom in that. I can make the wrong play call, say something stupid, make a disastrous choice I deeply regret, and I’m still ok, no matter what anybody thinks.

Sure there might be rough consequences and mouthfuls of humble pie, but since I’ve made peace with my fallibility and weakness, I don’t have to drop my eyes in shame. Because I am little and Jesus is big, I can hide in him and recover from my folly, knowing he saw it coming all along, and he loves me anyway.

I am enough because I am hidden in him.

The Apostle Paul struggled with something fierce, he never said what it was, but he asked the Lord to deliver him from it. God didn’t. Instead He said:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Then Paul said,”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” II Cor 12:9

So my boys from Seattle, including you Mr. Carroll, hold your heads up – not because you played your hearts out, not because you are ferocious competitors, but because you are weak, human and beloved by God.

And by Seattle too. im in

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Meet The God of Water.

Pouring Water

(Photo credit: peterjroberts)

You are the glass – God, the water.

Fill up daily.

Your glass is more useful than special.

Use it. Fill it. Empty it on

a thirsty, beaten world.

What else would you do with it?

Bedazzle and shelve it with the other pretty vessels?

Fill it with poison and sell it?

Smash and shatter it into angry little bullets?

Why, when you can water God’s flowers?

Douse their drooping heads

with a cool drink from the eternal spring.

Your glass can hold only so much privilege.

God Needs Your Art.

IMG_2321Slipping off to adult summer camp for a week is one huge benefit of being a Christian. I came home yesterday from the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, brimming with the joy of the Lord and holding the business cards of three agents and four publishers who asked to see my book.

I had a large time.

Mt. Hermon is a 107 year-old Christian conference center, nestled among the Redwood trees, high in California’s Santa Cruz mountains. It’s a place bent on reminding weary adults how alive and organic Jesus was when we were kids. Just breathing under those giant centurions robed in red bark is a relief I didn’t know I needed, like stepping off a crowded street into a store playing Bach.

At Mt. Hermon, Jesus is taken seriously in the best way possible.

In between pitching our stories to agents and editors, we gathered to sing and pray, remembering that while we are all building writing careers, Jesus is the foundation.

At Mt Hermon it doesn’t sound weird when strangers stop you and say: “You know you’re glowing right? The spirit of the Lord is all over you.”

Nor is it strange when someone promises to pray for you, but then rethinks it, sets down her coffee and does it on the spot, praying a rangy, open-sky prayer that echoes something you were thinking five minutes before.

At Mt. Hermon creativity is treated like the gift it is. At each gathering, the person known to be the funniest delivers announcements while some marketing-department creative explodes with a little audience-participation stage art.

IMG_2331I’ve wandered through a lot of wilderness since I decided to follow Jesus, but at Mount Hermon, I finally found the meadow I was looking for. I was perfectly myself there and perfectly peaceful at the same time. This is no small thing.

The good news is: God is no respecter of persons, so you can do it too.

All the creative energy relegated to your daydreams is there for a reason. Use it. Or as key-note speaker McNair Wilson said:

“What if you really are as magnificent as God made you to be? If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done and God’s creation is incomplete.”

Jesus is the foundation for everything I want to build, but that wasn’t always the case. I built many high-maintenance structures without him, but they were shifty and eventually crumbled. What I’m doing now satisfies me in ways I can’t explain without crediting Jesus. He is the reason I write.

So, what are you born to do? What daydreams are trapped by your cubicle? Need some practical tools for freeing them? Mt. Hermon gave me a bunch, I’ll share next week.