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  • Writer's pictureKristen Cole

Mercy Rule

Never underestimate the power of a mother of three kids and two cats who works part time, teaches VBS and keeps the family fed and the home “show ready” amidst day to day baseball tournaments, guitar lessons, baseball and swim team practices.

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.

Mercy is what I cried out for Wednesday morning.

Awaking very early due to my racing mind, I sipped my hot coffee sweetened with the perfect amount of my favorite creamer while preparing my Vacation Bible School lesson about the life of Daniel. I ate my egg white veggie wake up wrap that I had bought in preparation for my busy morning just the day before. I greeted my husband with a warm smile and invited him to pray with me about the sale of our home. It was a good start to my day.

“Mom!!!!” I heard the screech first…followed by the bounding eight year old footsteps pounding down our stairs. “Mom, I threw up last night.” I replied, after taking a deep cleansing breath…”Are you ok? Was it a lot? How is your tummy?” My sweet lactose intolerant boy, big brown eyes, looked up at me, “Mom, I am so sorry. It is a big mess. I didn’t mean to.” I hugged him up, sent him to shower and walked into the room after assuring him that he was my first concern, not our freshly cleaned carpets (insert gritting teeth emoji here).

I entered his room, fearing the worst. And. It was pretty bad, alright. Chocolate flavored magic shell had been his choice to dress his cup overflowing of ice cream not 12 hours prior. That same chocolate flavored magic shell turned vomit spattered all over the carpet, the bed frame, the comforter, the wall. I gathered my wits. I called out of my meeting, discussed the game plan with my husband and went back into the chocolate masacre armed with paper towels, trash bags and our Bissel carpet cleaner…and a giant plea for mercy.

The week had been a hard one. Anyone who has ever prepped a house for the market understands this. Carefully, we had planned to be out of town so open houses could commence and draw in the people. We aligned our listing to start during the all star tournament for our middle boy in Wilson. Pumped for the tournament for our middle, our oldest had been dealing with the sting of life’s unfair playing field as he saw his little brother living out his own unfulfilled dream. My mama heart was so tender and raw from the difficult conversations he and I had shared since his brother’s invitation. Good, but oh so hard.

The tournament ended up being a terrific learning experience for every single one of us. Though I was so tired from sharing a double bed with my eight year old after baking in the North Carolina heat for two days in a row, my heart was happy, proud and full. My younger son found his love for the game while my older son learned one of the most valuable life lessons one can experience – turning disappointment into a field of ripened opportunity for growth and good. It was all so good, but this mama was so tired and again, it was for mercy that I asked God for as I set off on the long trek home an hour past our house to pick up our kitty cats who had been boarded for the open house. Mercy.

The “mercy rule”, also known as the “slaughter rule”, “knockout rule”, or “skunk rule” is put in place to end a two-competitor sports competition earlier than the scheduled endpoint if one competitor has a very large and presumably insurmountable scoring lead over the other. It is called the mercy rule because it spares further humiliation for the loser.

There were many games over the weekend where one team “mercy ruled” another. All of the little league boys were talking about being “mercy ruled” or “mercy ruling” other teams. It just did not sit well with me. “We “mercy ruled” them!” “Did you all get mercy ruled?!” How about, “We won!!” “We played so hard!” Something about the way this phrase changed from a thing to an action really bothered me.

I sat with this as I prepared my VBS lesson on Daniel and his plight in the lion’s den. Daniel, in his devotion to God, refused to bow down to the king though it was the law. Because he disobeyed the law, he suffered the punishment for his crime – he was thrown into a den of lions. The king, though he had a soft spot for Daniel, did not prevent this from happening – he did not show mercy on Daniel – though he certainly could have. Instead, he left him to the lions, certain he would be devoured.

Sometimes life is like that. It is easy to feel “thrown to the lions.” I kinda felt like that while cleaning up the vomit. Just where was the “mercy rule” when I needed it? I felt like a humiliated loser at that point. There had been a pile up from the previous week, and much more than I mentioned. We’ve all been in the trenches and that is where I had been. I wanted that “mercy rule” from God.

But that is just not how God works. Mercy rules are inapplicable in God’s kingdom. God sent an angel to shut the mouths of those lions in the den with Daniel. This act of protection over Daniel then showed indescribably mercy to the people of Babylon. Once the king saw the awesome power of God, he ordered that the whole land serve and bow down to the One True God. God’s mercy is big picture mercy. God’s mercy is eternal.

His mercy is new every morning, freshly covering our sin filled actions, thoughts and desires. Paul refers to the mercy of God in terms of salvation: “God, being rich in mercy,… even when we were dead through our sins, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4.

God’s mercy is often disguised in difficulties and how we respond to them. My aunt recently told me about her cousin’s son, who has been diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She told me that he said, “Having ALS is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.” If you know anything about this disease, you know that it is very cruel. It is, honestly, the worst disease I could imagine. While all mental capacities remain intact, the body slowly fails, one system at a time until mechanical ventilation is required to breath, tubes are inserted to keep the person fed and toileted and communication is only possible via advanced technology of using eye gaze to direct a sensor to words on a computer. I cannot imagine saying that this could ever be the best thing to happen to anyone. Instead, I imagine crying out for mercy in the most desperate of pleas.

But, this man’s response is one of humility and acceptance of true mercy. He believes that because of ALS, his life has rich meaning. He told my aunt that without ALS, he never would have been able to fully advocate for this disease, for all people currently afflicted and those who will be in the future. He has a God-sized perspective of mercy. To him, mercy was extended to him in the form of ALS, that without its presence, he would not have had the opportunity to be a voice of change and influence for the betterment of his fellow man.

God, in his supernatural mercy, has allowed us to be saved from certain death and a life filled with sin and hardened hearts. He has allowed each one who accepts his son to live a life full of purpose. What if we viewed our position every day as a people who have been given the best thing ever – a Savior – who forgives us, loves us, gives our lives purpose and invites us to be a part of bettering life for all of our fellow men.

I cannot help but think of my aunt’s cousin’s son. I cannot think of a better analogy. I cannot imagine feeling the way he does about a disease so wretched. His perspective about ALS has enabled me to see the depth of the true mercy God grants to me every single day. In His mercy, he has saved those who believe in Him from death and eternal separation from his loving hand.

God always “mercy rules” us. Every. Single. Day. If we got the punishment we deserve by the opposing team called sin, boy would we be looking far worse than the chocolate magic shell explosion in my son’s room. Next time I think about crying out for mercy, I want to remember that God’s mercy is there for me every moment of every single day. The “mercy rule” of God is far more gracious than a 20 run limit in little league baseball. God’s mercy enables true humility, a heavenward perspective and ability to see good in the most trying and dirty places of life. God’s mercy – be with you all.

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