As soon as I answered the phone, I heard the panic in her voice.
My daughter, who was in the 7th grade at the time, had received permission from her teacher to call and ask if she had possibly left her brand new IPOD Touch in the car that morning. Although I knew I hadn’t noticed it, I checked the car thoroughly, yet it was nowhere to be seen. Her worst fears became a reality – the IPOD was missing.
I immediately went to the school and met with the principal to file a report about the missing IPOD, where I learned that there had been a rash of thefts since school resumed after Christmas break. When Kaitlyn came into the office, I could see the sadness in her eyes, hear the loss in her voice, and sense the overwhelming regret pouring out of her little heart.
As she scooted into the chair beside me, trying to hold back the wails of sobs that wanted to burst out of her, I knew she was beating herself up inside. Even though an IPOD is just a material thing, it had been a special Christmas gift she had anxiously waited for. She had been so excited to receive it, but now, it was history.
Immediately upon leaving the Principal’s office, the tears she had been holding back could no longer be restrained, and she expressed through her sobs how desperately she wished she could go back in time that morning. What if she would have just left it at home or in the car. If only she hadn’t left her purse at her desk when the class went to the library for a brief time. How she wished she had held onto it safely and been more responsible.
Her mind was flooded with “what if’s”, “if only’s”, and “I wish’s”…..but nothing would change the outcome. The IPOD was gone forever.
I have been in her shoes before, but over more serious issues than an IPOD. I spent years living with a desperate longing to go back in time and do some things differently. To be given a second chance to make good decisions and better choices. I remember the weight of trying to juggle all the “what if’s”, “if only’s”, and “I wish’s” of my life, all the while, beating myself up inside.
But all that came to a close when God got hold of my heart, and helped me embrace His promises of unconditional forgiveness and love. When I asked God to make me whole, and allowed His compassionate love to become a reality in my life, I realized that just like the IPOD, my past was history – but in my case, it was a good thing to lose.
After concluding my meeting with the school principal that day, I bent down to hug Kaitlyn and send her back to class. As she turned to walk away, with a tear stained face, slumped shoulders which carried the weight of regret and sorrow, I remember feeling a sudden surge of maternal emotion overcome me.
I found myself wanting to sprint down the hall like a mom on a mission, scoop her up into my arms, and whisk her home where we could snuggle up in a blanket, drink hot chocolate, and watch silly cartoons. I felt such an overwhelming compassion building up inside of me that I thought I might explode. I wanted to make it all better, and take away her hurt. I wanted to fix the problem, but I couldn’t.
When I consider God’s compassion for us, His children, I can only imagine that it exceeds anything we can fathom as an earthly parent. When He sees that we are hurting, or struggling with our own set of “what if’s”, “if onlys”, and “I wish’s”, He wants to make it all better, but unlike us, He has the sovereign power to do so. He can make it all better, and He will, if we acknowledge that Easter is celebrating the gift of His life to save ours, and open the door for Him to enter into our heart.
Psalm 78:38-39 says “Yet He was compassionate; He atoned for their guilt and did not destroy them. He often turned His anger aside and did not unleash all His wrath.” (ESV)
I could have been mad at Kaitlyn for not listening to my instruction about leaving her IPOD at home, but my love and compassion for her took precedence over anger or judgement. In the same way, as this verse describes, God’s compassion outweighs His judgement, when we repent and turn from our sin.
This weekend, on Easter Sunday, we will come face to face with the depth of His compassion, as we celebrate the resurrection of His Son. There is no need for us to beat ourselves up for past mistakes, or waste time fretting over “what if’s”, because Christ already took the beating for us.
He was a Man on a mission, with overwhelming compassion and willing to do whatever it took to scoop us up into His arms and atone for our mistakes, making them nothing more than forgotten history.
Happy Easter Friends!!