Story of the Day for Thursday October 20, 2011
The Intent of Our Heart
We all stumble a lot.
A little four-year-old girl has a secret plan. Her mother’s birthday is tomorrow morning, so she is going to make her mommy breakfast in bed.
Her older brother shows her how to set the alarm clock so she can wake up before the rest of the household. Her mom tucks her in for the night, but she can hardly sleep – she is too full of joy at the thought of the present she is going to give her mommy in the morning.
When the alarm goes off, she yawns, tiptoes downstairs into the kitchen, and prepares a birthday feast. She makes toast with jelly (lots of it), pours a glass of orange juice, and heats a pot of hot water for tea. On the tray she puts the birthday card she made the night before.
The little four-year-old bursts into the bedroom, crying, “Surprise! Happy Birthday Mommy!” She beams as she rushes to set the tray on her mother’s lap. But, in her excitement, she trips on the rug by the bed. Orange juice flies everywhere. Hot tea scalds her mother’s arm, and the toast lands on the new quilt – jelly-side down.
As your distraught little girl breaks into tears, what do you do? Will you be furious because of the hot tea water that splattered on your arm? Will you punish her for the damage done to your quilt?
Or will you hug her tight and say, “It’ okay, sweetheart! It was an accident. Thank you for making me such a special breakfast. I love you!”
Think hard about how you would respond to your brokenhearted little daughter, because that little girl is you.
All of us stumble through life. The problem, however, is that we’re usually lousy at assessing our guilt. We tend to feel guilt based on the consequences of our behavior, rather than the intent of our heart.
But, the unintentional mistakes we make can occasionally have big consequences. As long as we assess our guilt based on the degree of damage we caused, rather than the intent of our heart, we will never find relief from our feelings of guilt.
When I said that the little girl who stumbled was you, I didn’t just mean that, like her, you goof up a lot (which we all do).
What I was really getting at, is that Jesus doesn’t punish you based on the consequences of your mistakes. Instead, in your grief, he is crying with you. He wants to wrap you up in his love, and let you know that it’s okay.
God always offers forgiveness for the sins of our heart. And he has nothing but love and understanding for the disastrous mistakes we never intended.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)