But he was pierced for our transgressions. Is.53:5
Recently somebody criticized one of my children. This person spoke ugly things behind our backs, holding my child to a very high standard for a very short person. The worst part?
They were true.
My children are sinners. This particular child is big-hearted, enthusiastic, affectionate, fiercely loving, loyal, brilliant, sparkling, tender, inquisitive, fun-loving, discerning, astute, exuberant. This child is a big person in a little package, and I am hungrier for the Lord because He gave me this child. But just like every member of the human race, this kiddo lives out the besetting sins that twist each sin-flawed soul. Scott and I see these little black roots in both of our children and we do what we can to pray, love and discipline them out. We want to spare them the pain that will certainly come from unaddressed sin in their lives. But we can only offer the opportunity; we cannot walk in holiness for them. In this particular situation, my child had repeatedly made the hard choice and received consistent discipline for it. And now an adult pointed a long finger of condemnation at my little one, not from love or accountability, but in judgment.
When I heard about the scathing words that had dribbled out of this person’s lips, my jaw clenched and my fists balled up. I may see my children’s sin stains, but they are my babies after all. My first reaction was to rear up and strike like a mama cobra. I tried to release my protective torment, but it pierced me. Ragged, I breathed a prayer, Lord, I need help. I need to let this go. I will not carry the burden of somebody’s else’s legalism. How do I receive what is life-giving accountability to our family while releasing the poison?
The Lord told me to go to the bathroom. I am not making that up.
So I put down my pumpkin ale (which is fabulous, by the way) and walked, bewildered, to the powder room. Mmmmm-kay. I closed the door and looked around me. My eyes locked on two wall plaques that I had hung just a few days before. Rimmed in simple black, etched in glass, the simple words “Pray” and “Grace.”
The Holy Spirit whispered to me, So you want to release these judgments? Pray and walk in grace. Let go of your own legalistic criticisms of this person that are pounding inside of your pierced soul. Pray in grace.
But, reluctantly at first, I chose to obey. I prayed for this person’s children, parenting, marriage, intimacy with the Lord, career, character. I even prayed for this person to have a connected (albeit boundaried) relationship with my child. I sat on the toilet seat in my powder room, forehead on my knees, hands open, praying anything I could think of for a long time. As I prayed, a transcendent beauty grew in my (weird) little prayer closet. The ball of tangled anger unravelled, trailed away. I saw this person through the eyes of a deeper grace.
Then I prayed for my babies. I prayed that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies would fight victoriously to overcome the sin-roots in their souls. I prayed for Love to envelope them in safe and everlasting arms. I prayed that everything hidden in their lives would be brought into the light. I prayed that God would show Scott and I how to lead them, love them, enjoy them, discipline them in these years that will set the course for the rest of their journeys on this broken planet. I prayed for love-armor to protect them from the inevitable legalism and judgment that will cloud their callings. I prayed that God would raise up mentors to lead them deeper into holiness and purity.
Grace is a harder, deeper journey. I used to wonder why more people do not abide under its banner, but now I know. Grace is excruciating. It heals by piercing holes in our expectations and draining all of the venom we store behind justice’s dams. We drink the venom willingly; we do not want it drained. But Grace insists. I cannot receive grace if I will not offer it. I cannot offer it if I will not receive it. Grace is a beautiful, demanding master.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Gal.5:1.
What do I value in our family? Behavior or character? Performance or relationship? Legalism or grace? If I hope and pray for grace, shall I not offer it, even (maybe especially) to those who choose not to offer it to me or to those I love?
Pierced (wounded) in judgment, pierced (healed) in grace. Wounds vs. healing. That is the chasm between legalism and grace. Lord, keep me out of the chasm. May we dwell on the vista of grace.
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and prayer. They will look on Me, the One they have pierced. Zech.12:10.