Monday 14 August 2017

Shattered Mirrors & My Messed Up Mercy

When it comes to mercy, I wish I could be more like a river, but sometimes I’m just a trickle.

Perhaps, it has something to do with the broken 'trinkets' I lug around.

Take for example, my magnifying glass. It works incredibly well... except that it’s broken... the focus is all off.

Huh? That doesn’t make sense to you? Well, allow me to explain.

In moments when I encounter the folly of another wandering soul, another sojourner on this journey of life, I whip out my magnifier. With preposterous focus, it highlights the flaws and faults of the unsuspecting culprit until they loom literally larger than life. 

Yet, when I turn this same lens back on me, it has a [not] surprisingly opposite effect. With 20/20 vision it shines the spotlight on my ‘rightness’ while any error on my part fades out of view.

Any logical person can sense that something is awry with my trusted magnifier, but I stubbornly hold on to it. Why wouldn’t I? It strokes my ego just so.

A broken magnifier would be bad enough, but what’s even worse is the shattered mirror I tote around. If it weren’t so splintered, I could see the truth about myself. A clearer more accurate focus would be achieved. You know, one that shows that of all the sinners I am chief. (1Timothy 1: 15-16) But no, so broken is it, that I don’t see myself at all. What’s worst? It’s been so long, it’s as if I’ve even forgotten what I looked like... forgotten the scars I try to hide.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  James 1: 23-24

This combination... magnifying the faults of others while not being able to get a good look at myself, leads to the biggest problem of all. You see, the broken shards of my mirror have allowed my ‘me-toos’ to leak right out of the bag. That inclusive sentiment... the one that comes alongside my brother - my friend... that whispers ‘I understand’ - ‘I walk the same road’... that softens, welcomes and loves with open arms.... GONE... slipped right out of my heart without me even realizing it.

I think of the prodigal son... how much he had screwed up... how much he didn’t deserve the reception he got. With my ‘if you know better, do better’ justice scale, I am the older brother. I do not welcome this brother of mine. My scale, which vacillates between mercy and judgment, tips towards judgment.

But, maybe it was the gaping hole caused by judgment that convicted me... made me realize that something was wrong. Something needed fixing and I needed help.

As the older brother, I, too, was in desperate need. I, too, need mercy. With my goody two shoes checklist personality type, perhaps it just took me longer to realise it. 

So, I started first with the magnifier. Since the focus was totally off, and it was never intended to be used this way, I took it right back to the Manufacturer. Thankfully it was still under warranty. Yay for lifetime protection! 

When I got it back the difference was astonishing! Now all I could see were specks in my brother’s eyes while large planks and logs were floating around in my eyes. (Matthew 7: 3-5) And that wasn’t all... as much as I tried to keep it locked in his direction, it kept pulling away, steering away from us and up toward God, it just kept refocusing on the amazing attributes of God and all that He has done for us. (1 Timothy 1:16) I didn’t even remember it was supposed to work this way. It’s like it was shouting to me... reminding me ‘it’s not about you... or him... or her... it’s all about God’.

My new mirror is even more amazing. It doesn’t show the reflection I’d expected... the one that the world tells me is there. The one I believe I would have seen before. Rather, it’s like I’m seeing double. For each time I peer into this mirror I see not just me but us... I see us, as we really are... chosen and cherished children of God. I see the ‘gold leaf’ of Jesus’s blood that beautifully paints over our cracks and flaws. The scars we don’t have to cover up when our story merges with God’s beautiful story of redemption... but that open our hearts to receive and give mercy.

And just like that, I 'see' the truth... the shocking ridiculous truth that God continually offers me mercy. Me, the older brother, the one who doesn't show mercy well. Sometimes though, I find it hard to receive it. I mean, when you stop to think about it, I really don’t deserve it. And I have this scale, you know, and it tips towards judgment... even for... no especially, for me.

But wallowing in judgment is not a pleasant place to stay... and God calls to me. Reminds me that I’m fully known yet loved by Him.  So I reach out, and I feel it, too. The beautiful shock of a welcome party I really don’t deserve.

I feel mercy. 

I become the younger brother... the one fully aware of my transgressions and overjoyed by the sweet taste of mercy

And that helps me to understand... that my dear brother... sister... husband... friend and I - we’re in this together. We walk this path together. We all make missteps, sometimes intentionally, and we all need mercy. It’s a true ‘me-too’ moment, and my ‘justice’ scale tips to the side of mercy.

And then it dawns on me... maybe I don't need to carry a scale at all. Maybe that's not my calling.

My trickle of mercy widens, and I am enabled to be merciful just as my Father is merciful... and it is beautiful.

What about you?
Do you find it hard to receive the mercy God, our Father, offers?
Are you towing around broken gadgets and scales that mess up your mercy?
There is hope, my friend.
God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.
May we freely receive and freely give.
And may God make us rivers of His mercy.

Thankful for His mercy,


  1. Carlie - This was a fabulous post. I was just talking yesterday about the prodigal son. I love that story because I too used to be the older brother and felt it was so unfair for him to get a party. I was so filled with judgments. Slowly but surely through life's hits and God's grace I have been changing my stance. I say bring on the party for the prodigal son.

    1. Thanks, Maree Dee! I'm so glad that you can relate; I was beginning to think I might be the only one. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Carlie, this post is beautiful and true. Thank you!

  3. Carlie, I have the same magnifier!!! I need to return it. Thank you for this wise post.

    1. That's great, Debbie! I got a brand new one when I took mine back. :) Glad you could relate. Thanks for the encouraging feedback.

  4. This is such a well-written post and my attention was captured the whole time by your analogy. It's a humbling thing to see yourself in comparison to the holiness of God and then to accept His great and immense grace. It's then I find, I understand the magnitude of the grace extended to me and how could I not show mercy to others. Thank you for this lovely encouragement.

    1. Thanks, Valerie! You're so right; it's in true humility that mercy is born. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the post and found it encouraging!

  5. I loved your post! The symbolism was so true. Growing up, I received very little mercy, so I am always extending it to others now...maybe a little too much! However my problem was always with the mirror. I did not see myself as God saw me. Perfect, whole and forgiven. He has been working on my heart regarding that and has brought me so far. So thankful for a God who loves His daughters unconditionally!

    1. Oh yes, Jessica! I am sooo thankful for Him! I have a long way to go yet, but He is so faithful! Thanks for visiting today and for your encouraging words.

  6. I am so grateful for His mercy in my mess!

    Blessings to you!

    1. Me too, Alida, me too! :) Thanks for the visit! Blessings to you!

  7. What a beautiful allegory, Carlie! I think my magnifier and mirror came from the same lot as yours did! (lol) ... Yes, thankful that God is merciful. The more we recognize that, the more we are able to extend it to others. Blessings on your day!

    1. Thanks, Dianne! So glad you can relate, too. Nice to connect this week.

  8. Oh goodness, I thought my lenses were the only messed up ones. So glad to know I'm not alone. :-)
    I'm grateful for a God who is full of mercy, especially in those times when I am not.
    Blessings, my sister.

    1. Yes, my sister, gratitude changes our whole outlook on mercy. Thanks for your continual support. :)


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