Mercy, Not Sacrifice (based loosely on the first chapter of the book of Job)

“I sacrifice, I sacrifice,” the righteous man did say.

“Long hours I toil to satisfy my darling’s needs each day.

This job consumes my life, dear, but I do it all for you,

From Monday up through Saturday, and now on Sundays too.

For me there is no Sabbath rest. I’m married to my work.

It has me in an iron grip. My work I dare not shirk.

You say you want my time, but I do not have it to give.

You see how hard I slave so that my family might live.”

 

And so, the man with fervor climbed his ladder of success,

Although the burden on his shoulders caused him much distress,

For when it came to serving God, he feared his kids might fail,

And that he never would reap any fruit from his travail.

He saw the way they partied. Had they cursed God in their hearts?

Then he must work to save them all from Satan’s fiery darts!

The best of his own toil and sweat this righteous man did pour

Into a fragrant offering that God could not ignore.

 

The best of all he had he sacrificed continually

That God’s forgiveness might rain down on them and set them free.

The man was truly duty-bound. He had no other choice.

Yet his own fleshly toil gave him no reason to rejoice.

For no blood of an animal could satisfy God’s law,

Because such sacrifices are not totally without flaw.

Nor can the righteousness of man atone for sinful pride.

It’s just like fig leaves, leaving him with no true place to hide.

 

Man’s best attempt at righteousness is like a filthy rag,

According to Isaiah. There ‘s no gold inside that bag.

How then can wasted time and talents ever be redeemed?

Not even he whose name was Job could come up with a scheme!

If even he, the man most upright, didn’t have the “stuff,”

Then how could anybody else attempt to do enough?

The truth is, God had His own plan which Job could not yet see,

Until one day he caught God’s notice unexpectedly.

 

Scriptures

Isaiah 64:6   Romans 3:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cup of Forgiveness

This cup of forgiveness He handed to me

Is a cup that brings healing, so rich and so free.

It cost me no money, this vessel of joy.

But I must share it carefully. This is no toy.

 

It cost my Lord dearly, this wine of His love.

He said “Give this freely, this gift from above.

It isn’t for those who would cast it aside

Or scoff at its contents, awash in self pride.”

 

“It is for the humble who treasure its worth,

A drink for contrite ones who know little mirth,

The desperate ones who are too thirsty to spurn it,

And wise to know they have done nothing to earn it.”

 

So, when the man came to me, tortured in mind,

And I recalled all the ways he’d been unkind

To me and my loved ones, the things he had done,

Neglecting our needs as he sought his own fun,

 

I struggled inside, and I asked was it wise

To give drink to one so despised in my eyes?

I know it can heal him, but is he for real?

Or is this his trick? Is he cutting a deal?

 

Has he truly repented for stealing from me,

With actions that he performed so callously?

He says he does not care how it breaks my heart.

He’ll do what he wants. His has made this an art.

 

Though seven times seventy I may forgive,

It’s tearing me up inside. How can I live?

Whenever I see him, I’ll try to be kind,

To bless when he curses, with his good in mind.

 

I’ll offer this cup to him. That much I’ll do,

But, also, I pray, his misdeeds he will rue.

For I cannot trust him. I’ve lost all respect.

Lord, please, for his own sake, don’t let him reject

 

The path that will bring him back on the right track.

Until then, I pray, let him suffer attack

Until he gets desperate enough for this cup.

For you’re my avenger and I am fed up

 

With tactics that bully. I need peace inside.

Please make your Word real, because for me you died.

I cannot live feeling unloved every day.

So then, first let me drink of this cup now, I pray.

 

Let me feel forgiven and then I can give

The love that you gave me, that others might live.

 

 

Super Hero House of Healing, Part I

A stretch of clear, blue sky overlooked a bright green lawn. Light breezes combed the grass. Drops of sparkling sunlight danced upon a nearby brook. Its bubbling waters gave the place a peaceful, comforting feel. Rows of pink and red tulips petals stretched up, toward heaven. Down below, two women walked across the clearing, carrying the limp form of a girl, no more than twenty. A man in a white robe met them.

“You can set her down here,” he said, with a downward glance and a wave of his right hand.

The women exchanged puzzled glances, wondering what he meant. Then they saw a purple blanket lying on the ground, with a soft pink pillow on it. The man took the girl from them and laid her on the little bed he’d made.

Before he could introduce himself, the first woman blurted out, “Hi, I’m Cynthia.”

“And I’m Janice,” said the second.

“I know. I’ve heard about you,” said the man. “I’m the head physician here.”

Cynthia’s eyes filled with tears as she gazed at the girl’s thin arms and pale white face, which seemed to show more bones than skin. “Do you think there’s any hope for our good friend Eagle Girl?”

“There’s always hope,” said the man, his voice filled with compassion. He nodded to the golden building behind them at the top of the hill. “At the Super Hero House of Healing, we have cures for every disease that ever did exist.”

“I sure hope so,” said Janice. “She’s been wasting away for months. It is a mystery.”

“I hate to say this, but I think she might be anorexic,” said Cynthia. “She has all the symptoms. She won’t eat. She barely drinks. She never used to be like this. What do you suppose has gotten into her?”

“Something villainous,” said the doctor. He lifted the girl’s head and rolled her on her stomach.

“Just as I suspected. Do you see those tiny red marks just below her neck? This is no doubt the work of Backbiter.”

Janice gasped. “Who’s Backbiter?”

“A villainous vampire that bites your back with a deadly poison called False Accusation, based on lies which may contain a tiny grain of truth,” said the doctor. “False accusation is a type of hallucinatory drug. It distorts how you see yourself when you look in the mirror, exaggerating every flaw and minimizing every virtue. If you’re five pounds overweight, it will make you look obese. That’s the sort of horrible self-image False Accusation conveys.”

“Oh, so maybe that’s why she won’t eat,” said Cynthia. “No matter how thin she gets, she  sees herself as fat.And you believe false accusation is at the root of her disease?”

“I believe that’s a big part of it,” said the doctor. “But False Accusation alone is not enough to cause a person to become anorexic. I suspect junk food, as well, in the form of multiple gossip bites.”

“But she’s not a gossiper,” said Janice. “At least, not that I know of. She doesn’t really talk bad about people behind their backs.”

“I’m not judging the degree of gossip or the reason for it,” said the doctor. “I’m just looking at the facts, based on what I know. False accusation and gossip go hand-in-hand. You don’t have to be a gossiper to be involved in gossip. To listen is to participate, and what goes in the ear can affect the inner parts of your digestive system. If it’s poisonous, it will make you sick, but people drink it in anyway. They seem to think that feeding on other people’s flaws will make them feel better about themselves. But in the end, it makes them feel worse because it’s all based on hatred – hatred of others and hatred of yourself.”

“So, what’s the cure for hatred and false accusation?” asked Janice with a frown.

“Forgiveness,” said the doctor. “That’s the key to healing. Forgive and you’ll be forgiven, but if you don’t forgive others, then you won’t be forgiven.”

“That’s what Eagle Girl needs, all right,” said Cynthia. “She needs to forgive and be forgiven.”

“But first we have to wake her up,” said Janice.