I have this funny memory of when I was 10 years old. I lived (at that time) in Marion Montana with my mom and second step-dad. We had this aluminum wood shed out back, just between the house and the forest.
I spent a lot of time here, chopping firewood to keep the house warm. One day I was outside and for some reason (I’m sure it wasn’t malicious), I stuck the ax into shed. Just swung it over my head and “whump”, it sunk into the metal and left this huge hole.
In awe over how cool that felt, I tried it again. And again. And again.
Bored now, I stepped farther back, and tried now to throw the ax and make it stick. Several times I succeeded, but I left some mark with each try. Soon I was ducking and weaving like an Indian between trees, finding an opening, and swoosh… my ax would fly through the air and find the shed. Yeah, okay, I was an idiot, and I must have looked ridiculous.
It sure was fun while it lasted. But then it wasn’t so fun.
Sometimes we do things that cause damage. Sometimes it’s to ourselves, and sometimes it’s to others. What matters most, is that you correct your course early and often, and rely on the Mercy of the Lord for the rest.
There’s a poem I’ve always loved that addresses it nicely:
Edward R. Sill
The royal feast was done; the King
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried:
“Sir Fool,Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the monarch’s silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
“No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin:
but, Lord,Be merciful to me, a fool!
‘Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.
“the ill-timed truth we might have kept-
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say-
Who knows how grandly it had rung?
“Our faults no tenderness should ask,
the chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunder-oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!”
The room was hushed; in silence rose
The King, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”