Where Does Real Courage Come From?

Monday, September 22, 2014

His Tender Mercy

                                                   Reflections on Mark 2:9-10

“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.”
                                                                                                Mark 2:9-10

The answer is simple: It’s easier to heal the body.

But they sit there -- refusing to answer. Odd, they should know. There have always been magicians, enchanters, and sorcerers who, engaging the dark powers of Satan, have been able to perform great signs and wonders. 1

No one can rescue the soul for God but God.

Why not say it? “It’s easier to heal the body than the soul.” But they don’t, even though they just saw it happen with their own eyes. Jesus, with a word, lifted the weight of sin from the paralytic’s soul and pronounced him forgiven and free.

But seeing, they didn’t see.

So He does, for the first time, what He’s hasn’t done before. He announces who He is. They know the Scriptures. They’ll understand it as He tells them He is the long-awaited “Son of Man.” The same One who will be “sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  2 The One foretold by Daniel:
            I saw in the night visions,
            And behold, with the clouds of heaven
            there came one like a son of man …
            And to Him was given dominion,
            Glory and a kingdom,
            That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
            Might serve Him.
            His dominion is an everlasting dominion
            Which will not pass away;
            And His kingdom is one
            Which will not be destroyed.
                                                                                                Daniel 7:13a, 14

Understand this and they will know why He has authority on earth to forgive sins. But they stare at Him – unresponsive. Why won’t they engage Him?

Jesus turns to His new friend on the mat. He has already given him the greatest gift of all – mercy that will last to the days of eternity. He has yet to do the easier work of caring for his physical needs – mercy meant only for the present time.

But still, a more seeable gift. Will that make a difference? If these men see the physical power of God heal the man on the mat, will they believe? Will their hearts long for the tender mercy of God? Will they let the Son of Man forgive their sin and heal their souls? Is that how it works?

See the easy to receive what’s not? It’s why He’s here – they should know that.

            Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;
            once you had not received mercy,  but now you have received mercy.
                                                                                     Peter 2:10 (ESV) from Hosea 2:23

He makes His move. He’s not like the magicians and sorcerers with their rituals and incantations. He’s different, whether anyone understands it or not. He is the Son of Man. He has been granted all authority by His Father. All He has to do is speak. That’s all. Nothing more.

            “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.”

And let mercy come again.

*       *       *

The following week, Walt communicated mostly by email. “I’m keeping a diary and will send you installments,” he wrote. And that’s what he did.

Tuesday night – August 13, the day after my talk with Dad

I woke up discouraged this morning. A little while after we prayed together, Dad was taken down to radiology. He was there a couple of hours. Not sure why it took so long. Then they decided to transfer him from ICU to a private room. All of it was too much for him. Last night, he needed sleep, not visitors.

I started thinking he prayed that prayer for me. Not him.

Late this morning, I got to the hospital and found the exact opposite. Dad was sitting up in bed, color in his cheeks, the window blinds open with sun pouring into the room. One look at him and I knew God had done something.

The most obvious change? He’s talkative. He’s interested in us – in Mom. It’s like he’s been away for a long time. Now he’s home. And more than anything, he wants to spend time with us. Can you believe it?

The best gift ever.

Friday Morning – August 16

Our family is in celebration mode.

Two days ago, Dad asked if he could spend time with each of us alone. Including our spouses and children. He also had a list – a small list – of people he wants to see from the shop. We’re doing it, but taking it slow so it doesn’t exhaust him.

The doctors and nurses have all seen the change in Dad.

Yesterday, his cardiologist said there’s no reason to keep him in the hospital, “His heart function hasn’t changed. It’s still very weak.” He suggested Dad go to rehab for a couple of weeks to be monitored. Dad told him he’d rather go home. As of now, that should happen sometime on Monday.

Biggest surprise?

He’s spending a lot of time with Ellie and Mom. He’s got them reading the Bible to him! His suggestion – not theirs. What can I say? We’re all pretty stunned.

Saturday Night – August 17

A lot has happened in a short time. Dad had a long talk with Mom the other day and they decided to change their wills. Somehow, they got their lawyer to comply. He came to the hospital late yesterday afternoon with a notary.

Also, Dad asked Ellie to call their Catholic priest. He’s supposed to visit Dad sometime after church tomorrow.

Some of Dad’s friends have come by. Others we asked to wait till next week when he’s home and more rested. Dad was pretty insistent that family has to come first. By late today, I think he’s talked to each of us.

But no one shocked us more than Mom.

From what Ellie and I could gather, Dad apologized to her. She tried to brush it aside, but Dad wouldn’t let her. They talked a long time, making Mom cry – good tears, she said. But sad tears, deeply sad, for all the years they’ve missed.

Of all nights, tonight was the best.

There must’ve been fifteen of us packed in his room. I’m surprised they didn’t kick us out. Dad was in rare form. We’ve all known Zane was his favorite. But not tonight – we were all his favorite. It’s like we’re living in a dream. The Lord has done what we never thought possible. All I can do is praise Him tonight.

And ask – would You give us more time with him?

Sunday Afternoon – August 18

Down day. He’s tired.

He asked Mom to stay when Father Carey stopped by around 1:30. She said Dad asked for two things. Could he make his confession? And, is it possible to commit his life to Christ this late in life? Father Carey assured him it was and then spoke for a while on the tender mercy of God.

Afterwards, rather than customary giving of Last Rites, the priest anointed him with oil and prayed for his heart to be fully healed in Jesus’ name.

That’s my prayer too.

Got to see Dad for a few minutes. Didn’t stay long. He said he was tired and needed sleep. Told him I’d stop by later this evening.

Sunday Night Late

Carol and I got to the hospital around 7. Mom, Ellie and her husband, Tom, were there. Dad still looks tired but the glimmer in his eyes hasn’t left him. He’s excited about going home tomorrow. “Can’t come soon enough,” he said.

Before we left, Dad asked if we could pray together. We held hands around his bed and – surprise again. This time, Dad prayed a simple prayer of blessing over us and our families. When he was done, he looked straight at Mom and said what I’ve never heard him say before.

“I love you, sweetheart.”

Mom fell in his arms and sobbed.

I’ll leave work by noon tomorrow so I can help bring Dad home. My heart is full tonight. The Lord has been so kind to us.

Walt sent a text message in the early hours of Monday morning, “Call me.” I did. He told me his Mom had just called.

“The moment the phone rang, I knew. All she said was, ‘He’s home, Walt, he’s home. Quietly, while he was sleeping, Jesus took him home.”

1 The Old Testament often refers to these “wise men” who counseled Pharaoh in the days of Joseph and Moses; the King of Moab through Balaam; and to King Nebuchadnezzar in the days of Daniel.  The warning against them remains strong in the New Testament: Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9, etc.
2 Mark 14:62

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John 15:1-11, the Vine and the branches. "Is He everything to you?