Pondering Grace: Captivated, Captured, and Grace?

Sometimes complex events swirl around us like headlines in a hurricane. If you’ve read Tender Times, you know this week has been exactly that. Really, those headliners impacted me, but I know it’s nothing in the global scheme of things.* The reality of our current events is so much broader, deeper, and more personal than the few I noticed. In your local headlines or personal interactions, there may have been news that melted your heart—or melted YOU.

How many of us sat enrapt with the manhunt in Boston? I couldn’t watch much of it, but I was actually resistant to the idea anyway. In the evening, I could hear the intermittent reports and abrupt, crackly police scanner broadcast in another room. People were thoroughly engrossed in it. All I could think and say was, “I can’t get over how odd this is! Would we have ever thought it possible to watch something like this in our lifetime? A manhunt televised through every media outlet available?” And we are moths entranced by the screen’s flickering flame. Sucked in. Captive to every shred of information, every tiny detail: killers, brothers, a foreign country, a religious belief system, more death, an offender on the run, a whole city on lockdown because of unpredictable evil.

There are moments in televised history we’ll never forget. Chuck this one on the pile, I think.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to process that. I just know I couldn’t watch it, and I didn’t. A friend put a word to my uncomfortable feeling about it: voyeurism. I think that’s what made me uneasy about it. How did you experience it? How did you handle it?

Then, the capture. It actually happened! A whole nation, probably a good portion of the world, watched it live. I imagine a collective sigh escaped the lips of people everywhere. I’m sure there were emotions of every kind permeating and morphing in their hearts: grief becoming gratefulness, desperation turning to relief, sadness maturing into anger, inquisitive fascination leading to resolution, or even bloodlust flipping to satisfied vengeance. I mention these things because some of them were my temptation, and some of them were put on display for all to see on social media sites. It was kind of strange for me to watch it all unfold.

All I could think of was Salem, Massachusetts, in the 1600’s. It felt a little like that sometimes. I mean, an emotionally charged majority lumbering together as one, actively pursuing justice (or their collective idea of it). In this case, justice was called for, and the outcry for it was on target. At the time, what I found hard to resist was the contagious emotions around me. It’s as if “group think” took over, and the temptation to respond without thinking independently was too strong. As I get a better perspective on it after I’ve participated, I’m repulsed.

So, where does grace fit in this stream of consciousness I’ve got going on here? There was something I caught a glimpse of in yesterday’s “peanut gallery” commentary that was quick, small, and almost unnoticed in the overwhelming flow of information and emotion. You might not have seen it, depending on who you’re hanging with or reading these days. I think I caught a whiff of a little grace yesterday.

No one granted these offenders a pass on their crimes that only mounted with time. Everyone wanted the suspects caught and their awful, evil activities stopped. A few voiced something a bit counter to the general commentary. They wanted the same justice, but each of these people voiced a hope that the perpetrators would somehow have a complete change of heart—to come to know an authentic picture of the One who created them, the One who never wanted their precious lives to be used (or end) this way.

What was that? Honestly, that was not among the first half dozen thoughts to cross my mind. (Now, I wish it had been.) These people communicated something from their hearts for these men that included compassion. Compassion for evil men? Somehow these people recognized the actions as evil, condemning what had been done, but hoping the men themselves would not be condemned in the end. How do they do that? They know grace!

God says,

Human being, you have already been told what is good, what ADONAI demands of you—no more than to act justly, love grace and walk in purity with your God. Micah 6:8 CJB

Some days all I can say is, “Oh, me of little faith.” And then I remember I need to just plant the little mustard seed and tend it….

I’m a work in progress. That’s also grace.


*I missed the earthquake in China and poison letters to Washington, D.C.

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