Thursday, June 24, 2010

Of mercy and grace

The children slammed to a stop in front of the sign that arched over the path we knew led to the caves and the arrowheads. It claimed that this path we had searched two days for was closed, forbidden, off limits. The sign was old with grafitti all over it. Surely the warning had expired by now.
"We can't go there," warned the little nephew B.
I suggested we go just a little way and see if the caves we had been told were on this side of the mountain were hiding somewhere along the start of the trail. We assured nephew B that we would not go to jail in all liklihood, and even if we did, he was young enough to be out in time for college.
It became readily apparent why the trail was closed. It had been washed out and was steep and slippery with a sheer cliff to the side that plunged 100 feet onto the Susquehanna river. Rocks dislodged from under our feet skittered down the steep incline and with an ominous silence disappeared over the edge. The plunk of water devouring the hapless rock many seconds later reminded me I was the adult in charge of all the little rocks beside me. Well, favorite aunt Amy was supposedly in charge too but she was gazing a little too longingly at that parh along the sheer cliff for my taste.
I saw the danger in the distance and told the troops to forget it. No way were we risking that trail, not with children that weren't even my gene pool about to be wiped off the face of the earth.
"Oh comon!" cried out little nephew B,"We can do it. We always do trails like this, even steeper ones. "
"No, I have a better idea. Let's bushwhack through the forest filled with mosquitoes and spiders and poison ivy. If we are careful we should be able to avoid being blinded by the thorny sticks that kid in front of me keeps whipping back into my face."
Nephew B had much preferred the option of tumbling over the 100 foot cliff but we forged on through the deep and not very clear forest. When 7 large mosquitos began to lift nephew B off the ground with their cumulative sucking force, we headed toward a house we saw uphill. We had had enough of the dangers of the wilderness.
We came to a road and a friendly home owner told us that the river park was just at the bottom of the hill. He obviously did not use the word "just" with the perspective of 8 year old legs.
I promised the tired troop that I would run to the top of the mountain to retrieve the car but the river beckoned just ahead. And finally, there it was - a quiet boat launch site with shade and boulders to climb and smooth flat pebbles to skip across the water. There was even a water fountain.
I trotted back up the
mountain while the rest of the crew cooled off.
We didn't deserve this refuge, this lovely Mecca after our brush with defiance and the law. We really deserved the fate of the stones that chose to ignore the sign and tumbled off the path. But instead, mercy was extended and we did not get what we deserved. And a heaping helping of grace was thrown in. We DID get what we DIDN'T deserve- shade, water to quench our thirst, and a river to cool our disobedient toes in.

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet was without sin. [16] Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Nothing is impossible with God.

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