Just returned from our annual trip to Pacific Beach. Our last one before my oldest graduates high school. This was our 6th year here, too. If the Lord allows, we will take this trip for the next 60 years. (That takes me to 110 years old for those who missed my 50th birthday blog.)
I’ve blogged about the beach many times. It truly is my happy place. I just had 5 days in a row on the beach. I’m overjoyed. Yet, how quickly will daily life rob me of that joy. A day? A week? A few hours? I’d like to say never. However, that isn’t reality.
What is reality, is my choice to ensure joy every day. One morning as I sat on the beach and talked to God, I learned something about myself – my need for justice robs me of joy a lot.
I had just read the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4). Do you know God extended mercy to Cain? He let him live. After the fall (disobeying God in the Garden of Eden), all would die. Cain didn’t put God first and offer the first fruits of his harvest. God didn’t like that. Abel did keep God first and offered sacrifices pleasing to Him. Eventually, Cain kills Abel in jealousy. So God made the land unyielding and sets Cain off as a wanderer to never be killed. Death was the just punishment. Mercy let him live. His life was tough from that point on (he was a farmer and the land would no longer yield to him), yet he had life. God’s mercy gave Cain an opportunity to change his ways. We never hear that he does.
Justice is when we get what we deserve. Mercy is when we are spared from what we deserve. Revenge is getting even.
I often want justice (sometimes revenge) when life is “unfair.” I want justice when
- a store is out of stock with an item it promised
- someone lies and gets away with it
- someone cuts in line
- someone hurts someone I love (or me)
- someone gets mercy instead of justice (even though I get this every day myself)
- the news shows me several back to back stories of pain and evil inflicted on strangers’ lives
Deuteronomy 32:35 says “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” That is God’s directive to us. It’s His job to administer justice or mercy. It’s His job and His choice. When I seek to administer it myself or desire to see justice done, I get caught up in the emotions of someone else’s story. It’s not my job. It’s not my concern. It’s God’s.
My beach insight is this “release justice to God and move on.” Easier said then done. It is my goal. I want to keep my beach joy and this is the first step in achieving that. Beach lessons are usually deep and profound for me, as is this one. Today as I do a million loads of laundry and wipe sand out of the car, I will sit in my new resolve to keep beach joy. It’s God’s not mine.
Dream Big! Pray Big!
P.S. Actual sunset picture from our trip. God paints beauty.