Saturday, July 21, 2012
Toward Freedom III
In the dream, Jesus ran. It was a very short dream, a quick flash before I woke up. His running was a kind of fast, delighted dance with progress and invitation. "Come with me!" There were no words, but a strong feeling of "This will be wonderful." He ran, more like cavorted, on into a forest that I knew was called the Forest of Free Emotion.
Like a small animal--squirrel, maybe, or a rabbit--I timidly poke my nose out beyond where the cage bars used to be. Cavort? No... more like lumber-and-retreat.
Freedom can't be had without peace. If one is always awaiting the whip of judgment, there won't be much cavorting in life. Jesus has promised to keep the whip off my back. Word versus experience, and word wins only gradually. He does win, little step by little step, and I learn what it's like to live without judgment. I know I should be out there, dancing with Jesus, but I know what happens when I do. It's dance forward one step, tentatively, and then cower under the awaited lash.
Prince of Peace. I thought I knew what living in peace is like. A friend and I were talking about this a few months ago, and I realized that any peace in my life was more the result of tyranny than anything else. It was a peace of enforced silence, which is no peace. And yet, how can one even approach peace when there's the constant hair-trigger suspense of instant war? The Prince of Peace interposed his hand so the whip, if it fell, could be felt but would do no damage.
That was the beginning of real peace, and it wasn't long before freedom started making itself felt, like another furred creature poking its nose outside. Memory is powerful. I'd take a step or two beyond the cage's old limit, and then scurry back "inside." Then I would duck under any cover and wait.
"Be brave," they say. "Go ahead. Walk out on that branch. Get out of the boat. If things go wrong, Jesus will catch you." Voices of judgment, all. The prodding is not learning, and does not lead to confidence. What does lead to confidence is Jesus' constant presence, the invitation, his patience, the Holy Spirit's side-by-side step. Occasionally, when I do something I know is wrong, he is fierce but gently so. There's no question what he's saying, and yet there is no judgment.
It's a new world in freedom. I don't know how to live there. I have no real-time guides other than Jesus himself; mostly, when people start talking about freedom it's just bondage in fancy words or else a statement that cynically denies the possibility of freedom. I still believe. Jesus believes too, yet he knows what doubt is.
"Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29, from Biblegateway)
I doubt, and I bumble toward freedom while Jesus dances. The path to blessing isn't straight. I am blessed by Jesus' presence, and not quitting has more to do with God's blessing than with my perseverance.
2012 July 21