Childish Justice (And the Yard Bird)

The Pride and Joy of Chehalis Washington. Click to see more views of this magnificent creature.

We rode our huffy bikes to the highest point in town, then dismounted for the walk through the woods. Between the radio towers that bore the marks of our bbs and past the old crumbling reservoir, we headed for our newest fort.   My brother and I built tree forts, but this was a dee-lux tree apartment. It had rather stunning views. To the west, the flood plain of the Chehalis river, and the north held the stunning visage which is the ‘Yard Bird.’ We had scavenged old wood from a broken down cabin to make the platform and Nathan dipped into his savings to finish it off. The lumber delivery man was a bit surprised to see a 12 year old paying him for a dozen two-by-fours and several sheets of plywood. 

Then came a terrible day. Nathan and I ascended the hill to do some more work on our fort. It was suspended between a triangle of trees about 5 feet off the ground. It measured roughly 10’ by 10’ and was about 6 feet tall. It had a slanted roof and was covered with tar paper to keep the rain out. We climbed the steps and opened the door to find that we had squatters on our property! We found clothes and a sleeping bag. I was so angry. Who were these people that had taken over our fort?  It wasn’t fair! Nathan had worked his paper route to save money for the lumber and we had hauled it up the hill. We did the work and someone else was reaping the benefits. To this day, I’m not proud of what we did. We took all the stranger’s things out of the fort and tore it down. It felt like justice. In a sick way, tearing that fort down felt better than building it. Someone tried to take what was ours, so we took it back, and kept them from having it.

If justice merely means anger when I’m wronged then everyone is already perfectly just. No, justice isn’t about me, it’s about taking care of the weak, the helpless the person who had no place to stay but a tiny crudely constructed fort on the side of a hill. I was wrong about what I did with the fort, and I was wrong about justice. My heart was wrong before God. What I really felt that day was not justice, it was self-righteous anger. Justice is not self-seeking. Justice is not primarily concerned that I was wronged. Justice says, “Yes you built this fort, but God built this world and you are living in it for free.” Justice that comes from God concerns itself with the rights and needs of others first.

My sense of justice is too weak. God’s justice is so strong that he threw himself under the bus for my sake.

God’s justice: I’ve been ransomed by God. I have nothing to lose, thus I can give everything.


1 thought on “Childish Justice (And the Yard Bird)”

  1. That’s a great piece Jim–my kids were very much captivated with the Yard Bird. Thanks for the reminder of the truth of our status–ransomed and free.

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