“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”
– Vernon Sanders Law
Thanks to everyone for your laughter, support, and kind empathy as I have been learning how absolutely weak I am (see last week’s post for details).
I have also been learning how strongly supported I am in my weakness.
Who are you people that you are filled with such compassion and empathy towards me?
Are you on my payroll?
No, you are the people from whom we learn what life is, in fact, all about.
Most of us think life is about looking good in order to gain love.
We give our lives to this task. Earning love transactionally is our live’s work, we think.
Everyone participates and we’re all on display and review.
After I started calling some of you to come to my house to rescue me last week, it struck me.
I was going to have people to the house, some for the first time. I needed to get my act together and straighten up for you – except I couldn’t much walk.
I also then realized it had been a couple of days since I had last been in the shower (my wife is glaring at me right now – yes, she sleeps with me).
“Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” – John 11:39
Getting to the shower, must less in it, was not going to happen, I was certain.
Whatever smell my wife was complaining of, you also would soon be smelling.
I wanted to turn off the lights and pretend I wasn’t home, except I couldn’t get up.
In fact, when one of you came to the door, I was on the couch and literally couldn’t get up to unlock the door.
It took 10 minutes of deep, repeated failure and humiliation to gain vertical access to my body so that I could come to you.
So let’s make a list:
- my house was a wreck (my fault, not Betsy’s)
- I stank from lack of basic hygiene
- when you came to help me, I couldn’t even get up to unlock the door.
Welcome to the Hagues.
Remember, we are all on display and review.
So how am I doing?
It depends upon what the lesson is.
If life is about looking good in order to earn love, then I have flunked the course.
But when you came to me, you had changed my class schedule, hadn’t you?
You came representing an entirely different degree program.
You came to teach me that life is ultimately about being needy (and dirty) in the presence of great love.
I was in need of compassion and you came for me.
Like the Samaritan who went out of his way to help someone who could do nothing to pay him back, you changed a difficult situation into something magical and good.
People who care make magic in this world. We’ve been talking about that, if you remember.
In the last three years, your compassion has been changing me:
- My relational arrogance and judgment is being replaced by a softness of heart that sees the needs of others and wants to do something to meet them.
- My relational despair is being replaced with great hope that there are people like you out there who gladly get their hands dirty to love people like me unconditionally.
Remember in C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” how the land was described as it lay under the spell of the white witch? It was a place where it was “always winter and never Christmas.”
But there had been sightings. Old prophesies. Strange stories. Aslan was on the move. And even though snow was still on the ground, the great thaw had begun.
I wonder if that’s what compassion is:
- It is the scent of spring in a cold world.
- It is the whisper that reaches our ear softly.
- It is the proof that ultimately the pain of this world is only a passing shadow.
- It is the sacrifice that has declared war on evil.
- It is the breath of God that proclaims the great thaw has indeed begun.
Compassion – our hearts long for its acceptance and service when we are broken and needy in this world.
When it comes, we believe in God again.
Our longing for these things also tells us something else is, in fact, true:
“Our final joy lies beyond the walls of this world.” – JR Tolkien
Therefore we do not lose heart,
© Ed Hague. All rights reserved.