My column at First Things this week brings me back to a retreat experience that I am still processing and learning from:
How does one assist at adoration and not feel inclined to bash all anger, all fear, all frustration, temptation, hopelessness, upon the cross of Christ—which can bear all things—and simply consent; simply allow him to recreate, revive, restore to make everything, everything, new.
His majesty will do it; He will not wait to discuss all the ways you have failed him—there is time for that, an eternity for that, later. If you allow him to, if you let him in, he will change you, and bathe you in his immense tenderness. If you are laying in a gutter, like Eszterhas, you can call on him, trusting in the words of Isaiah 38:17: “ . . . you have saved me from the pit of destruction, when you cast behind your back, all of my sins.”
It is beyond all of our knowing, which is why—no matter how tempted we are in our increasingly polarized church to stand with the Pharisees—we cannot. We must, ultimately err on the side of mercy, because mercy is what we all seek, and leave justice to the One who may be trusted to know what that is.