Friday, January 10, 2014

In which there is Poetic Justice, for God is a Poet, but there is also Mercy

I am honored to open up space today for the words of Anita Mathias. Anita and I first connected in the comments section of a piece I wrote for SheLoves. A few months later she asked me to write a guest post over at her place. Clearly, we share an admiration for each other's words. Please join me in welcoming Anita to 
A Lifetime of Days.


Even while Esau was out hunting his father’s favourite wild game, Jacob and Rebecca slaughtered and cooked two choice young goats-- which Jacob served to Isaac, pretending to be Esau, stealing his blessing.

A cruel deception.

And, uncannily, years later, in his own old age, Jacob’s sons sold his favourite son into slavery, dipping Joseph’s precious robe in the blood of a slaughtered goat, claiming he had been killed by a wild beast.

Tricked with a goat, just as he had tricked his own father with a goat.
* * *

The seeds we sow, we reap, measure for measure. They lie dormant in the earth, sometimes for years, then yield their harvest.

The good we have done yields blessing, and the evil we’ve done conjures shadowy forces against us.

And that’s scary if we have sown bad seeds, have said and done less than luminous things, things we are now ashamed of.

* * *

But we do not live in a mechanical universe. We live in a just universe, shot through by mercy like a golden cord.

The law of sowing and reaping is the deep magic from the dawn of time, in C. S. Lewis’s phrase.

However there is a more powerful force still: the force of mercy, unleashed by the willing victim who bore in his body the punishment for all the bad seeds we have ever sown.

And so mercy triumphs over justice. The deep magic from before the dawn of time.

Jacob recovers Joseph; Esau was, in fact, blessed.

* * *

For myself, I want to sow good seed for the rest of my life.

But the bad seed I have sown? The things I am ashamed of? The things I did because of my small, bewildered, wounded heart?

I confess them.

I ask God’s forgiveness. I ask Christ’s blood to cover them.

And I step into the waterfall of mercy, the mercy that triumphs over justice because the One who loves the world is good.

I ask him to let all the bad seeds I’ve sown, which are still dormant, die.

And I ask him for grace to overplant much good seed to crowd out the bad seed.

And I ask him, the ultimate genetic engineer, to somehow, even now, change the DNA of the bad seed I’ve planted, and bring good from them.

And I place my life and future in His hands.

(Photo credit: Jenny Downing)

Anita Mathias is the author of Wandering Between Two Worlds
(Benediction Classics, 2007). She has won a writing fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The London MagazineCommonwealAmerica, The Christian Century, and The Best Spiritual Writing anthologies.

Anita lives in Oxford, England with her husband and daughters. She blogs at Dreaming Beneath the Spires. You can find her on Twitter @anitamathias1 or on Facebook at Dreaming Beneath the Spires.


  1. Great thoughts Anita... thanks.

  2. Anita,

    The idea of God as poet simply sings to my soul. But you pen your own poetry, my friend:

    "But we do not live in a mechanical universe. We live in a just universe, shot through by mercy like a golden cord."

    Yes, this. As much as I crave justice, I do not understand the complexities of what is leveled by our Creator God. I need that mercy. I need it shot through every pore of my body, wrapping me in gold.

    Thank you for sharing these truths in this space today.

  3. Thank you, Holly, for hosting me.

  4. Anita, your unique way of writing truth laced luminously with peace's own wisdom shines here. I am particularly reminded of the words of Augustine, "God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to allow no evil to exist."

    How glorious when what is sown in tears is reaped in joy. When what is mourned as ash is transformed into beauty.

    Because: redemption.

    Lovely thoughts, my friend. And Holly, you know I always love your space. So good to return here today.

  5. Beautiful! "And I step into the waterfall of mercy, the mercy that triumphs over justice ..." Every time. How thankful I am.