Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Mercy Seat

"A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, "All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!" 2 Samuel 15:13

Nanny had sent us outside to play quietly. Mommy wasn't feeling well today. Mommy was always well, so to see her in bed was a new experience for my sister and I. We wanted to make her better. Surely there was something we could do to help with her healing. What do people do for others who are ill? They bring flowers!

Our eyes immediately fell on our Daddy's prized tulips. They were gorgeous. Every colour under the sun was in full bloom. People were always stopping and marvelling over their beauty. They would definitely cheer Mommy and make her better. As quickly as we could we plucked all of the tops off every tulip. Our little arms could barely contain such treasure. We were so excited.

Carefully and quietly we entered the house and crept silently up the stairs. Our faces were beaming as we presented our precious gift to Mommy. She appeared to have a mixed reaction. Her hesitation made us instantly aware that we had done something wrong. Although she appreciated our motive, she was somewhat reserved in her expression of gratitude. Considering the time her husband had devoted to the care of these flowers, her heart was torn by our love for her and the lost delight in the effort of her husband's hand.

When Daddy arrived home from work that day, it only took him minutes to notice that his garden had been burglarized of blossoms. He came immediately to my sister and I and gently asked if either of us knew what had happened to his flowers. He wondered, did we have anything to do with this vandalism? We were quick to point at one another.

I'll never forget what happened next. Daddy asked us if we promised that we wouldn't ever do this again. With deepest sincerity we shook our little heads. We were so sorry. In trying to bring happiness to one parent, we had deeply disappointed another. Daddy told us to dry our tears because he was taking us out for icecream. Icecream? We were sure we were going to be punished for our actions. Daddy explained that he had forgiven us and that because we vowed that we would refrain from ever picking his flowers again without permission, we were going to celebrate. Celebrate forgiveness, restoration and a promise made.

Forgiveness. If only David and Absalom had offered it to one another. For over 10 years bitterness separated father and son.

Too often we offer conditional, partial or delayed forgiveness when the Lord wants us to forgive fully.

I love this quote by Ken Gire, "It has been said that forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it. Could there be a fragrance so sweet in all the world as that of Jesus washing the very heel that was poised to crush him?" (referring to Christ washing Judas feet).

Charles Swindoll writes that we can offer forgiveness in tough situations by: 1. Keeping our vertical focus clear. Take any offense to God immediately; 2. Remain aware of our own failure. This requires humility. "The humbled forgiven make good forgivers."

Sadly, we sit on the judgement seat more than the mercy seat.

Unforgiveness stole eleven years of Absalom's life. Praying the Lord will help me to be quick to offer forgiveness.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. "
~ Lewis B. Smedes

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Marilyn in Mississippi said...

What a beautiful post today Joy! Such a sweet thing for your Daddy to do....seal the bargain with icecream. So many Dad's would have punished first without waiting to hear the reason behind pulling the flowers. He sounds like he was/is a great man. I hope he is feeling better. I'm sure that's why you miss him so...because of him being so good to you!

Love ya,

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

You paint a beautiful picture of forgiveness, Joy. Thanks for giving it to me today. I don't think I'll ever see a tulip in the same way again.


Laura said...

Hello, my friend!

I remember how hard it was to resist the temptation to pick beautiful flowers when I was a little girl. Our neighbor had the most beautiful roses...but they weren't ours.

This is a wonderful lesson. forgiveness. Amazing grace.

How special your parents are, Joy. I love getting to know them through your memories.

lisasmith said...


This is beautiful! Brings tears to my eyes. Celebrating forgiveness, restoration and a promise made.

Once again, I've fallen in love with your daddy. Praying your family visits the mercy seat today.

RefreshMom said...

Lovely post Joy. I think forgiveness is one of the most supernatural aspects of life in Christ. It goes so completely against our nature, but the effects are so deeply healing--to the giver even moreso than the recipient.

I just sent off some new photos to be placed on my blog header. Right in the center is a garden of tulips. They'll have a much deeper significance to me now.