I got to sit next to George for dinner. He and I and a few others were invited to a multi-faith discourse which is a fancy way of saying we sat around and talked about our personal spirituality. Now we were sitting at Lost Lake Cafe enjoying a fruity IPA with a shot of gin thrown in. George is a grey haired, slim, brilliant, Zen Buddhist.
The first thing that struck me about George was how peaceful he was. It was more than the gin too. He was unthreatened and patient with me as I pestered him with questions. He had no desire to convert me but only to refresh, enrich, and bless.
As dinner arrived, the topic settled on meditation and prayer and it got me thinking how this illuminates the whole drug dealer and doctor.
My prayers had become too transactional. I was so concerned with what happened, I never took the time to ask why. If I really want God to transform me then I can’t just direct my attention upward. I need to look inward as well.
Meditation has started to do this for me. As my mind quiets, it clarifies. Since I had turned forgiveness into something so trivial like swallowing a pill, meditation is helping me chew. I’ve been forcing myself to taste the bitterness and foulness of my bursts of anger or binges. I’m refusing to skip over the scary and difficult inward work God has patiently been waiting for all these years.
I’m finally starting to let him in. Not just into the living room after I vacuum or the kitchen after I do the dishes. I’m letting him into my bedroom with the socks on the ground. I’m letting him into my dirty garage and my messy closet. I’m letting him into my life late at night and when I think I’m just talking to thin air and when I’m insecure and wish I was a better friend to Phil and after I yell at my kids and when I am only pretending to care about people and when I try to impress people and when I’m lonely.
But instead of quickly moving past it and turning the radio back up.
Now, I’m sitting in it.
Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life. -Psalm 139:23-24
Peace is not the absence of conflict but the embrace of what I’m hiding. I think that’s why I liked George so much. He wasn’t hiding. I’ve discovered sin isn’t the problem, it’s my attempt at solving the problem.
Sin’s power over us was destroyed by a poor carpenter two thousand years ago on a lonely hill. He announced this when he breathed his last words, “It is finished.” (1) Those words are more than Jesus being happy he finished his mission. Jesus did not merely pay the penalty for our sin, but he destroyed the entire economic system of sacrifice, coverings, and sin removal.
The transactions are no longer necessary.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
We are like recovering addicts to a previous system. Once, our drug captured every minute and thought of our lives. Now, we are free to think and experience so much more. We can finally come out of hiding and be healed.
So lets stop hiding.
Be still and let him bring up what you keep repressing.
Don’t run from it. (sin)
Don’t try to cover it. (sacrifice)
Don’t even pray about it.
If the gospel is anything, it’s that we don’t have to do anything. We can just be still and allow the great physician to do what he does best.
“Child, I’d like to talk about…”
And then let him.
It’ll be ok.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
-Matt. 9:12,13 (The words of the doctor)
- John 19:30