Truth always comes to a head. A point. Like Nathan Jessup couldn't about himself--we can’t handle it. Like not being able to handle snakes. But to live again, you must be able to. And will be able to.
I was the governor of my province. And everything was jacked up. Everything was in turmoil.
All my decisions seemed to make it worse.
Then at the very end. When the foundations were trembling. When it was critical and the heat was on; I got out of the limelight; away from the crowds; into the back room of myself. The judge's chambers—the green room. That place no one else enters. The ego’s lair. Behind the wizard’s curtain. And in that quiet place, guess who was in there? Jesus. It turns out he had been trying, all this time, to save my world; but man, he was bloody and beaten to a pulp—bound with cords. And there was this other voice in that room. One who would do everything to stroke my ego—to keep it safe. One who “cared about Me.” It whispered in my ear, “Get out of here! Now! You do not want to confront this!”
Then. I spoke.
“See! The truth is...the truth is…See, I know what the truth is! It was everybody else that...They deserve…Now look, I know what I’m saying! I’m in control! I didn’t hurt anybody! The reason all this is happening is...What happened was...the truth is...the truth is…the truth…
...What is the truth?”
And as he was dragged out, back into that other place—that front place—where life actually happens--leaving me in silence, Jesus did not speak. Just left this question ricocheting off the walls of that far back room:
“You’re the governor. The top of the rule of law. You control judgment. You sit at the judgment seat. You’re making all these decisions out in the light of day. You decide who lives and dies; and back here...back behind it all...you don’t know what truth is?”
Error:_Danger Will Robinson.
Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack.
Does not compute. Does not compute. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute...
Operating System Malfunction.
Error. Fatal error.
Because an alive 42 year old person should know what the truth is. Right? Uh oh. Oh no. It just might be that I’m not alive. That I don’t even know how to live.
Sick. Paralyzed. Lame. Blind. Dead. Desperate. Cold. Empty.
And then one fine day, like a fish out of water, gasping for my last breath, eyes wide and dilated, moaning, catatonic; floating in the surf; I listlessly bump up against something. And Jesus looks down and says gently, “hey, look who finally washed up at my feet.”
To the degree that our lives are mundane, useless, slavish and spiteful; we are neither the hero of any story, nor the villain. We are mostly inconsequential. The NPC of a video game who says the same dumb sentence over and over, no matter how many times or under what circumstances he speaks. We are a flying monkey—entranced; following. A background zombie waiting for someone to wake us up.
It parallels the narrative function the Israelite nation serves in the Bible. Always getting trapped, lost, enslaved, becoming useless, turning into a parody of themselves, plugging back in to the matrix, sinking back into unconsciousness watching someone else’s life play out on a movie screen.
“Where does your amazing strength come from to defeat the enemy?”
Samson replies, “Alright, alright. You keep nagging me and I keep telling little lies about myself, but here is the real truth. My strength lies in my hair.”
NO! WRONG! Samson’ strength was a gift from God. The hair was a gift—a symbol—gifted; given—but still just a material thing. Anything that is given comes from a source. Where the gift comes from—who the gift comes from—the “relationship” to the source—is what infuses it with power. And the source is what replenishes the gift with the power to defeat the enemy—as long as you remain mindful of—have a relationship with— the source. It is just the same with any relationship. The “gift of strength” does not reside in the thing itself. It is a terrible mistake to confuse symbols for the actual treasures—abstractions for the actual gifts, for power. To confuse this, is to disconnect, to shear, to “let a hand touch your head.” And when this disastrous mistake occurs; the symbol is gone, and with it, the gift. Delilah did not trick Samson. Samson was the one playing tricks. And like all tricksters, he relied on distraction, confusion, and lack of attention. Samson tricked himself. Samson betrayed God, and in doing so, betrayed himself. He became blind. Only when he grew the strength of character to talk to the Lord again and ask one last chance to change—to make things right—did he reveal his understanding of who his real enemy was. Samson is the one who had to go—to die. It is the last place anyone wants to look—it is dark, deep, lonely. It was in the filth, in the dust, in the dirt, at the bottom, in the belly of the beast, that he found what he needed most. When Samson finally discovered who was the true enemy, the true betrayer, he knew what to do. “And in his death he defeated more enemies than when ‘he’ was alive.”
I remember feeling like Dorothy waking up at the end of Oz, in her bed with her family surrounding her, for the first time with joy in her heart. The great lesson of “The Wizard of Oz” is not that the source of power resides in the ruby slippers (Dorothy had those on right from the start). The great lesson is that the power to get home springs from one’s deep understanding and admission after defeating the enemies within, that “there’s no place like home.”
Dorothy wakes up and says, “you were there, and you were there! And you! You were scared. You were stuck. And you were broken! And I was lost. But we found each other and went in search for answers—looking for a way back home. And we found that what we were looking for was right within us the whole time!”
And the joyful faces all around the bed of the just-waking child say, “Yes, Dorothy, we were so worried about you. We saw you running away from home. We saw the terrible storm coming. We knew you were at great risk of dying, but there was nothing we could do! And then you were badly hurt and fell asleep—It was as if you were dead.
But you woke up! You came back! And now, even though we were here all along, it’s as if we are seeing each for the first time!”
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”