Continued from “Three Stones“…
[I open my eyes. I am lying with my head on Jesus lap. I am a child, perhaps a tween. We are in a garden -- beneath the cross. It is early morning, but already hot. A light mist blows from somewhere, cooling us. It is very peaceful and secure. I could lie here forever with my Jesus.]
Good morning, Ernie.
Good morning, Jesus.
How are you feeling?
With you, I am at peace. I feel secure, loved. Dead to all the obligations of this world. Nothing else matters when I’m with you, since if anything did matter you would tell me.
But the part of you that is not with me?
If I had to pick a word, I’d say “grieved.” For him and the anger that drove him to atheism. For her, and the fear that weighs her down. For myself, and the pride and insecurity that keep me out of your kingdom.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Yes, Lord, and I thank you for that comfort. [pause to soak it in]
What do you want from me?
Huh. The same question I asked Sandhya last night. The cliché answer — at some level the real answer — is that I want your kingdom to come; in me, through me, around me. But obviously there’s more to it than that.
First of all, I want to be whole, or perhaps free. I feel like I’ve been wearing this skin of insecurity and pride all my life — certainly since 5th grade — and it is starting to chafe. I want out. I want to be naked and unashamed before You. I don’t want to “act out” in domineering ways, but I don’t even want to “act in”– do the right things for the wrong reason. I want to want the right things, if that makes sense.
More or less. Go on.
Second, I want to love my wife with a redeeming, transforming love. …So, I finally think I have enough of an understanding to pray. But am I praying the right way? Am I loving her the right way? Should I do more? Less?
And of course there’s the larger problem of my near-inability to pray, except through contrived means like this. Which would probably be my third request. I don’t really care how, but I want to accomplish those things (or rather, see you accomplish those) which can only be accomplished through prayer, versus those that can be achieved through my efforts. I want my reach to exceed my grasp, rather than turning inward toward only that which I [think I] can control.
Very good, Ernie.
Not really. I mean, sure, there’s lots of things I want. Alan’s salvation, success at work, happiness etc. But, those seem subsidiary to these. In fact, these three are probably all interrelated, and may even reflect a deeper need I haven’t articulated.
So, ultimately, I guess I want what you want for me — or at least I want to want that!
Well said. But how badly do you want that?
Bad enough to die. Slay me with your love, Lord Jesus, that I may live for you.
[Jesus looks at me for a long moment. He lifts his arms, and plucks a red ruby from his right hand, and a green emerald from his left. They are somewhat small -- perhaps a centimeter across -- but exquisite.]
These are your re-birth stones, Ernie. Part of the new name I give you, that is known to nobody but you. Forged in the heat of the cross, out of the fuel of your sin.
What do I do, wear them?
Ingest them, Ernie. They are like vitamins circulating in your body, to counteract the deficiency diseases of Insecurity and Pride. The red one, to treat insecurity, is “My Beloved.” It is made of Hope, Love, and Faith. Hope that you will accomplish great things in the world in my name — not yours. Love, because of the undying love I have for you. And Faith — faith that everything will work out because I am in control.
[I take, and drink the red one. It is like my first communion wine: potent and warming.]
The second is “My Child.” You are still a child, Ernie. You know in part, you understand in part, you desire in part. You will always be a child, Ernie. This gem/pill is made of Humility, Innocence, and Peace. Let go, Ernie. Let it all go, that you might inherit everything I long to give you.
[I eat the second. It is like an entire field of wheat, bursting with the earth's bounty.]
And what of the third stone, my Lord? The pebble of Self?
There is no gem for that, my beloved child. There is only my Spirit. Receive him now.
[He breathes upon me.]
Father, I receive your holy Spirit. I accept my identity as your beloved, and as your child. Forgive me for trying to build an altar to myself, out of insecurity and pride. Teach me to eat the real food of you, and drink your real drink. That I may hunger and thirst no more. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
12-15With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn’t notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it then and they don’t notice it now, don’t notice that there’s nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there.
16-18Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.