Yes, I was in prison yesterday. In fact, I’ve gone to prison every Thursday morning for the last so many years. More than five, less than ten. Let’s say 7 ½. I rarely go in with any sort of agenda, except to be in relationship with a group of guys that elect to show up under the pretense of “religious visit.” Actually, there’s not much pretense about it. I bring my Bible and sometimes open it.
We talk about everything from politics to sex. We also talk about what it really means to have faith while living in the real world, and how it’s not just some kind of legalistic set of rules and regs. It’s usually a quite stirring discussion. Our group maintains a high dose of cynicism, mixed with wonderment. I think that’s why I like Thursday mornings so much. Yesterday, though, I wanted to read Romans 8. Pretty cool stuff about the human condition, er..MY human condition. Somethings that I don’t want to do, I find myself doing. And other things I want to do, I don’t do. What’s my problem?
Well, it turns out my problem is not too far off from what everyone around the table deals with as well. This duality of the wills, a divided heart, the good and the bad, the ying and the yang. Not too uncommon. My question then was, “How then do I keep from going completely crazy?” Without any pause, one of the guys (who’s been in longer than I’ve been going, and doesn’t know yet when he’s going home) spoke up: “Gratitude.” Whoa. His simple profundity nailed me to the chair.
I try so hard to figure it all out. I’m certain that if I can just get this or that question answered, or if I can just get my behavior or thoughts “good” enough, THEN I’ll really have it good. It’s as if I’m looking for a faith without unanswered questions. Or that I’m looking for a religion that is about me being good enough to earn the good stuff. As it is now, I have to rest knowing that my faith only has validity with unanswered questions. AND that my thoughts or behavior will never be good enough, and they don’t have to be. That takes a load off my legalistic shoulders. All I need to do is be grateful. Grateful for all I have and all that’s been done for me. Pretty simple.
As you can imagine, I look forward to next Thursday morning.