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Walter Wangerin is an American author and educator who is best known for his religious works and children’s books. He has many delightful stories, but one in particular is very touching: “Matthew, Seven, Eight, and Nine” about how he tried to stop his son Matthew from stealing comic books. He tried various uses of the law over several years and continued to fail.
Finally, he resorted to something he rarely used: a spanking. He did it deliberately, almost ritualistically, and he was so upset when he finished that he left the room and wept. After pulling himself back together, he went in to Matthew and hugged him. A number of years later, Matthew and his mother were doing some general reminiscing, and Matthew happened to bring up the time when he kept stealing comic books. “And you know why I finally stopped?” he asked. “Sure,” she said, “Because Dad finally spanked you.” “No!” replied Matthew, “No, because Dad cried.”
Wangerin concludes with these words: “Hereafter, let every accuser of my son reckon with the mercy of God, and fall into a heap, and fail. For love accomplished what the law could not, and tears more powerful than Sinai. Even the Prince of Accusers shall bring no charge against my son that the Final Judge shall not dismiss. Satan, you are defeated! My God has loved my Matthew” (Walter Wangerin, Jr., The Manger Is Empty, pp. 116-132).
What the law can never do, love does. And God weeps over us.
PRAYER: Jesus, I suspect that the tears you shed at Lazarus’ tomb were tears shed for all of us in our sinful and fallen state. I am touched by your care for us and the love evidenced by your compassion toward us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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