Mary: a Parable

She didn’t think she was good at anything. Truth be told, Mary was on the better half of medium on most everything, but she didn’t feel that way. Perception and reality don’t always agree. And in Mary’s case, feelings had painted her a false portrait.

She was dutiful. No one could take that from her. Not even her husband. He was hard to please, but he knew Mary was “all in” for him and the kids. She wished they noticed the sacrifice more. But if they did, they never said. “Oh well,” she thought, “He’s got a lot on his plate, and they’re just kids.”

Inside, however, Mary was drying up. Doing the right thing no longer motivated her as it once did. In fact, she was beginning to wonder if there even was a right thing. If there was, she sure didn’t see anyone keeping score. Even if someone was, she mused, those living for themselves seemed to be having all the fun. Was she missing something?

Church was on and off in attendance, on and off in interest, and on and off in relevance. She knew the “thou shall’s and the “thou shall not’s” but what did that matter? Life had become faster and more complicated. The little girl may have needed the rules but not the woman.

Updating the kid’s chore list, assigning whose week it was to do this and that, an odd thought came to her—odd in the fact that religion and life rarely intersected for her. But it just did. After scribbling her son’s name under dishes and her daughter’s name under garbage, Mary noted how each of her children detested chores. Rarely did they do them without prompting; rarely did they do them without comment. She knew the rules and responsibilities were good for them, but they sure caused many problems for the home.

That’s when the thought came, a thought that generated a series of questions. Did God give rules to follow for another reason? Did He do so to show us we don’t keep them? Was it to show our inability to please Him? Is that what He wanted our failure to reveal? And why was that important?

Mary didn’t pretend to know the Bible. That was actually was a big part of her problem. But she knew grace and mercy and forgiveness were often spoken about in the sermon.

Maybe pleasing God wasn’t about keeping the rules? Maybe it was coming to a place of realization she didn’t? That she couldn’t? Is that why she needed a Savior? What Mary knew was she was losing; losing the battle of trying to stay between the lines. She didn’t know if that insight was good or bad—but it sure felt freeing.

Sunday was coming. She hoped the pastor would talk about grace and mercy and forgiveness again. Maybe that’s what she needed. And for the first time, it’s what she wanted.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

January 16, 2014 

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