disciples reaction to Jesus death, disciples reaction to the cross, falling into sin, forgiveness, forgiveness for all, God is never surprised, God's faithfulness, God's mercies in everyday life, God's mercy, God's stunning grace, grace, hard times, iniquity, mercies new every morning, messing up, new beginnings, no shocking the Lord, shock, stunned disbelief, transgressions, what to do when you fall off the wagon, what to do when you mess up
Last year, I was on the phone with my mom looking out the front door (I got better reception there because I lived in the boonies). My dog was outside and I noticed that something had caught his attention. He was on high alert because on the other side of the road, on the church steps, a cat was limping. It had obviously been hurt and needed help, but I wondered if my little terrier mix named “Brutus” would decide he needed to give “aid” to the cat. While trying to politely get off the phone with my mom, I was frantically gesturing to Gabe (my youngest son) about taking care of the cat. I was worried Brutus would decide the pain from the underground fence would be worth the price to get to it. Can you even imagine the melee that would ensue?! When I realized I had probably sent my son to the injury of his life, I hurriedly got off the phone just in time to warn Gabe about touching the cat too quickly. Great mom that I am, I finally remembered that injured animals were sometimes the most vicious because of their pain level.
Gabe must be a “cat whisperer” because that cat not only let him touch it, but he ended up cradling it like a baby as he started towards the neighbor’s house to help it back home. I grabbed my shoes and hurriedly ran down the hill to cross the road that leads to the neighbor’s house to help Gabe explain what was going on. The cat, Gabe and I all arrived at the stop sign at bottom of the hill simultaneously and at that moment, the cat must have smelled home. Its claws came out, jumped out of Gabe’s arms and ran across the road…just as a massive truck was coming around the corner. Yep, that cat was executed right before our eyes.
In stunned disbelief we walked back to our house. All I could think was, “How could our good intentions have gone so drastically wrong?” I just kept saying, “I’m sorry, Gabe. I’m so sorry”. Not even really knowing why I was apologizing. Finally, Gabe asked, “Why do you keep saying your sorry?” I told him I just hated that he had to go through it. I hated that I had asked him to help. I hated that I had gotten him involved at all and then, I finally told him the truth… I had no idea why I kept apologizing. It was all I could do, I guess. I was simply stunned (as was he). I could barely look at him for the rest of the day because I was afraid I would just start apologizing again and bring the whole horrible ordeal up again.
After the initial shock and once the neighbors came home, we explained what had happened and they were very gracious, but still to this day I am a little shocked over it. How in the world did a well-intentioned action evolve into such a horrible disaster?
As crazy as it may seem, I think that cat helped me realize how the disciples must have felt once Jesus was taken to be crucified. They must have sat in stunned disbelief having no idea how things had gone so wrong. They had just had an amazing time together, had heard some incredible teaching and then…
Was Andrew not able to look at Peter? Was Philip apologizing over and over to Nathanael? After all, the book of John tells us that they were the ones responsible for bringing them to Jesus. Were they all barely looking at each other as I could barely look at Gabe? Were they sitting in stunned disbelief not really understanding how in the world their well-intentioned actions led to such a disaster? And James? The older brother of John? He couldn’t even find his brother to apologize.
Stunned disbelief. It gets the best of all of us.
Before the cat incident, I’ve had other times of stunned disbelief. After an event, I would sit thinking about how in the world something went wrong and was flabbergasted by how quickly it got there. I’ve not killed anymore cats that I know of, but I have let a well-intentioned conversation get out of hand. I’ve also allowed myself to start watching something, or reading something that a few days later had me sitting in stunned disbelief that it had gone that far and I allowed myself to finish watching, or reading it. I’ve even been well-intentioned in witnessing to my neighbor and then, somehow chickened out. I sat in stunned disbelief later knowing that my apathy and fear had controlled me instead of the Holy Spirit inside of me. Stunned disbelief.
Has it happened to you? Ever started talking to that guy, or girl at work with the best of intentions, knowing they just needed a sounding board, but now you sit in stunned disbelief that the relationship went where it did?
Ever decided to eat that one serving of cake only to discover the next day that every bit of it was gone?
Ever think your family will understand the long hours you put in at work only to discover all their bags packed and you are now living what’s left of your life alone?
The really amazing thing is right in the middle of the disciples’ stunned disbelief, Jesus appeared. John 20:19-20 says, “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”
Right in the middle of their trauma, their stunned disbelief, their heartache, Jesus came and He wants to do the same for you and me.
Are you in the middle of an affair you can’t believe happened in the first place? First John 1:9 tells us that Jesus is the Great Forgiver and He is with you right now in the middle of your place of stunned disbelief.
Are you in stunned disbelief over the diagnosis that you just received from your doctor? Psalm 103 tells us that Jesus can heal all our diseases.
Are you in stunned disbelief that a loved one has just passed away? Psalm 23 tells us that our Great Shepherd is with us even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Are you sitting in stunned disbelief over last night’s events? Can you not believe that you took that drink, smoked that joint, watched that porn, did that deed that you swore would never happen again? Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that God’s mercies are new every morning.
He stays faithful even when we are sitting in stunned disbelief. He’s not shocked like you are. He knew it would happen and He has already covered it with His blood on the Cross. He knew it would happen and He still loves you. In fact, according to Zephaniah 3:17 He is still singing over you right this moment. Come out of your stunned disbelief and enter into His stunning grace. You never have a need to be ashamed again. His banner over you is love (Song of Solomon 2:4).
These are His words to you today and every day: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come… (Song of Sol. 2:10-12). Live in that today!