Misfit Disciples in an Orthodox World

Misfit Disciples in an Orthodox World
"You had better be a round peg in a square hole than a round peg in a round hole. The latter is in for life, while the first is only an indeterminate sentence." – Elbert Hubbard

I Don't Understand Mercy

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Over the past several years there have been some tragedies involving kids that I either know or were acquainted with through my kids or the kids of my friends. Several years ago, there was a girl in my son's senior class. She was an honors student, straight A's and she already had a scholarship to UNC Greensboro. She got involved with a boy that was a few years older and her parents didn't approve. They tried to keep her away from him to no avail. They finally asked her not to have the boy at their house when they were not home. She didn't listen. The mother came home one day to find the boy in the house with her daughter and an argument ensued. In the end, the daughter stabbed her mother to death. It will be 43 years before she's eligible for parole. There's not a week that goes by that I don't wake up thinking about that girl...
Six months or so ago, a kid (I think he was around 24) who was a friend of my best friend's children spent a day binging on alcohol and benzos. His father found him hanging in a tree in front of his house the next morning. He was a talented musician with everything in the world to live for, but he didn't think so. I don't understand that.
Yesterday, we found out that a 22 year old kid that my wife taught in children's church for years, a youth pastor's son, was involved in a an accident. He rear ended a guy so hard that he killed him instantly. The truck the man was driving went over the railing of the bridge they were on and it took crews 7 hours to recover the truck and the body. He sits in a local jail under a 1 million dollar secured bond, charged with vehicular homicide, fleeing the scene of an accident causing serious bodily harm, possession of narcotics and a host of other charges. The DA is considering second degree murder charges against this kid.
In church, we talk about mercy, but to be honest, I've never understood it. I started preaching when I was 11. Between that age and the age of 17 I had the privilege of preaching with some of the greatest preachers I've ever known. I gave it all up, though, and at the tender age of 18 I was sitting in a dingy bathroom in Ft. Wayne Indiana with a needle hanging out of my arm.. laughing as I watched a man who couldn't of been much older than 40 (although he looked 100) stick himself a hundred times between both legs because he didn’t have any usable veins... he'd destroyed his body with heroin and cocaine.
Thankfully drugs didn't kill me and I made my way back to the church at the age of 21 and immediately went back into the ministry. I preached and served as a pastor for almost 7 more years. Then divorce hit and I left again.... another 5 years of self-destruction ensued. I was driving drunk one night and ran a stop sign and down an embankment I went. When I hit, the front bumper dug into the ground and my truck flipped end over end, landing onto a guide wire that was supporting the electrical pole just several feet away from where I landed. I had dangerous tools in the front cab and acetylene tanks in the back. Just a few days earlier, a mother of three pulled out in front of a car and in what didn't appear to be a very bad accident, lost her life. I don't understand mercy. I walked away with a few scratches, she died... I don't understand mercy...
What is it? Did I have a brighter future simply because I could preach? I came from a broken home, none of these kids except one had to deal with that. Was it because I was cute and funny and people liked me? No... these kids were gorgeous and had everything in the world going for them. So why? I don't know. I don't even want to speculate. I just want to go on record as saying, I do not understand mercy. I really don't!


Shery said...

I do not understand it, either; but I am so thankful for it, which should go without saying. All of these circumstances mentioned in this post reveal to me that children may not be as resilient as we adults would like to think they are. After all, there are still plenty of things I am trying to overcome from my youth. It also exposes the volatility of the world and how out of control in some circumstances we really are. It is very sobering to say the least. For those things unanswerable, I throw my hands up and plead for the truth of Phil. 1:6 to be manifested quickly.

David Rupert said...

This is a stunning post. ....

Phoenix-Karenee said...

Mercy is hidden in difficulty as much as in rescue. Mercy is sometimes a quick death and sometimes a longer life. If it were the same for everyone we would be able to comprehend it, but God seems intent on being incomprehensible ... perhaps so we will never consider ourselves capable of going ahead of him. I don't understand it either, and I'm glad I don't.

C. M. Keel, Sr said...

Phoenix, that is a great way of looking at it. Thank you for the response. I will be pondering it for some time to come!

David Rupert said...

This post was featured at the High Calling, "Around the Network"


Of the thousands of posts among 1,700 bloggers, we selected just 10 to highlight last month.


Marcus Goodyear said...

I don't try to make sense of the kind of tragedies you describe here. I know that good can come out of tragedy, and have even seen it first hand. But that is no comfort to people experiencing the pain.

Someday I hope to be something better than Job's friends. They couldn't sit with him and resist the urge to moralize his experience. Job didn't need a moral. He needed someone to sit and say, "It hurts, doesn't it? We love you."

Jennifer @ GettingDownWithJesus.com said...

Thank you for your story, and for your honest approach.

For the record, I don't understand mercy either.

But even when I don't understand mercy (and even when I don't get God), I can say this:

I *know* mercy, because I know God.

Glad to see this post featured at The High Calling.

Claire said...

as a friend of mine always says: 'i concur'.

maybe not understanding it, is what keeps us reaching?

Anonymous said...

I love the honesty and raw emotion of your post, and I'm glad that David chose to feature it. Keep asking--and blogging about--such questions, because you're not the only one who wonders.

C. M. Keel, Sr said...

Many thanks to everyone who has read this!. I have been encouraged by your comments and to find out that I am not the only one who feels this way at times. I guess grace and mercy are two things better experienced rather than fully understood. And, I often cling to the verse in the bible's "love chapter:"

"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! [1 Cor 13:12 (MSG)]

Thank you so much, David, for including this post in your article. The interaction with other bloggers in the network has been such a blessing. THC network is such a blessing to be a part of!

Angela said...

Well, one thing is for sure: God allowed you to live for a reason. And day by day, as you give yourself over to Him—He will reveal plenty of the "why." He may not reveal it all, but He will reveal. You just have to continue giving yourself to Him.

It seems that you may not only have a gift of preaching, but of writing.

Anyway, just keep giving yourself over to Him.

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