There is nothing now hidden from the eyes of men that will not, in time, be made manifest — for there are no vile secrets that can escape the inevitability of pure truth. Over the span of human history, whatever wickedness has been uttered in the shadowy corners of men’s hearts shall be proclaimed from the mountaintops illuminated by the blinding light of justice.
While one may, for a time, manage to evade and escape the limited means of mankind’s due process, there are absolute consequences to the universe that must bear themselves out. As all rivers eventually flow into the sea, every kind of crime will meet a certain recompense.
Some people like to root for the lovable rogues of literature and film. Not me. I want justice. I always want the pirate to meet a “short drop, and a sudden stop.” My favorite character on the television drama “Breaking Bad” was DEA Agent Hank Schrader, not the murderous drug-dealing kingpin “Heisenberg.” Yeah, that’s me. I always want Sherlock Holmes to catch Professor Moriarty and for Judah Ben-Hur to best Messala in the chariot race.
Whenever one of my children get in trouble, I always admonish them to tell me the truth of the matter. “Don’t make me find out the full story later,” I say. “If I have find out the truth elsewhere, your punishment will be much worse.” Of course, they don’t always learn right away, so it’s a lesson I have to teach time and time again. I bet our local judges, attorneys, and law enforcement officials know the feeling.
One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies is the denouement in “The Shawshank Redemption” when (spoiler alert!) the protagonist Andy Dufresne, innocent and upright, escapes his unjust imprisonment while — at the same time — brings to light the crimes of the church-going prison warden. Moments before the warden (realizing there’s no escape) kills himself, the camera lingers over a needlepoint his wife made in her church sewing circle… the sign reads: “His judgment cometh, and that right soon.”
And so it does… foul deeds will rise, though all the earth overwhelms them to men’s eyes.
But despite the rough and raw scouring of God’s dominion over His creation, it is His mercy that far outstrips His justice. No matter the moral depths a man may plummet himself, there is yet a chance for redemption — even though he may be dead in his sins. While one can never find a more convicting ear to their crimes than the Lord, it is only by His mercies that any of us can find grace.
The Psalmist writes, “search me, know my heart,” and this is not a vague, generic invitation for just anybody to rummage around in our souls. Human beings are fallen creatures at best, somebody else might be destroyed (or destroy you) by what is found in there. But not the Lord, never the Lord. But the teaching of Psalm 139 is an invitation to experience the intimacy of a God who knows us even better than we can know ourselves and yet still reaches out with the arms of love.
God invites us to bring our whole selves to Him in prayer. Our deepest secrets, our most grievous crimes and transgressions, and our seemingly hopeless struggles — the Lord can abide even in the midst of these things. We can share in the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death. In the arms of Jesus, we find the one who searches us and knows us perfectly, yet loves us infinitely.
While we all deserve only justice, it is instead mercy that is offered to us — flawed beings though we are — through the perfect life and triumphant resurrection of our Messiah. None of us can fully conceive of the appalling strangeness of the mercy of our Creator.
The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.