Let mercy lead
"It's my money and I want it now!" is the cry on the television each night as wanna-be opera stars sing the toll free phone line of a company that would be happy to give you your money now, for what I am sure they consider to be a nominal fee.
As the credit card bills and department store chits come in from the holiday shopping sprees, certainly there are some who are anxious for a windfall that will allow them to pay off their the green and red debt and are willing to part with that nominal fee in order to get out from under. In most cases, they would probably be better served by developing a budget and sticking to it.
Another television ad that enjoyed a good run was from a hair coloring company that featured lovely-locked ladies that claimed, as they preened, "Because I'm worth it." In 2009, after a motivational analysis and a look at consumer psychology, the phrase was changed to "Because we're worth it," connecting the consumer to the company philosophy and lifestyle.
Small wonder then, that our culture has become self-absorbed with everyone elbowing their way to the front of the line wanting what they want and wanting it now because -- well because -- we're all worth it.
The phrases, "What about me?" and "When will it be my turn?" are asked in a plaintive tone by young mothers who've grown weary of the daily grind of bottles, diapers and foreshortened sleep; young wives grown weary of husbands who work long hours; and middle-aged couples weary of their empty nest, empty days and empty nights. Those phrases are usually followed by the statement, "After all, I deserve it."
I shudder to think what would happen to any of us if we ever got what we truly deserved. It certainly wouldn't be a new car, a new house or a new life-mate.
Still, it seems to be in our nature to want "just a little bit more," apparently the only acceptable answer to the question "How much is enough?"
In 1969, Fleetwood Mac recorded the song "Oh Well," composed by vocalist and lead guitarist Peter Green, that contained the warning, "Don't ask me what I think of you. I might not give the answer that you want me to."
We should heed a similar warning before demanding what we think we've earned, what we think we deserve, what we think is our due.
I'm supposing if I had gotten what I deserved as the years unfolded -- if I survived at all -- I would still be trapped in Wichita, Kansas, worn out by the hard-scrabble life I had forged for myself by abandoning job, home and family in the winter of 1974. And that is just one example from my life. There are too many others to catalogue, in this forum or any other.
Instead, I enjoy a comfortable bed, in the shelter of walls old enough to know their business, with a full tummy, in better health than I deserve, in the company of my best friend, every day.
(To underscore the magnitude of that gift, a friend gave me a message calendar several years ago. The message on Danny's birth date reads "I prayed for an angel from heaven to hold up my weary head... But God in His wisdom dispensed with the wings -- and sent me a friend instead.")
Far be it from me that I should stomp my feet and demand my due. It is God's own mercy that whenever I have, he has restrained his hand and granted me mercy instead.
The late Rich Mullins penned the song "Let Mercy Lead" in 1995 with his frequent collaborator David "Beaker" Strasser, a song written to Strasser's son Aiden, wherein Aiden is counseled to "Let mercy lead" to "let love be the strength in your legs" so that "in every footprint that you leave, there'll be a drop of grace."
Cliches catch on because they contain at least the germ of truth. So it is with the warning "Be careful what you wish for. It might just come true."
So it is with our incessant demands to get what we believe we deserve, no matter the cost, to ourselves or to others. Someday, we just may. And whatever will we do then?
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7 (NIV)