I have started re-reading one of my favorite books "Blue Like Jazz" and as I have been reading it I have discovered again why I always list it as one of my favorite books. The way Donald Miller writes about his connection with God and how he comes into a relationship with God is so challenging to me. Over the past couple of days I have been really thinking about my past and thinking about how far I have came in my relationship with God and reading through Galatians at the same time and remembering what it really means to be set free from the law and to really discover who God is and how to really experience freedom in Christ. It's just been a great couple of days in my devotion life and so what I wanted to do is as I read a great phrase or paragraph in "Blue Like Jazz" I will share with you. So this first one comes from the 1st chapter and Donald is talking about the 1st time he really felt guilt:
"The ideas I learned in Sunday School, the ideas about sin and how we shouldn't sin, kept bugging me. I felt as though I needed to redeem myself, the way a kid feels when he finally decides to clean his room. My carnal thinking had made a mess of my head, and I felt as though I were standing in the doorway of my mind, wondering where to begin, how to organize my thoughts so they weren't so out of control.
That's when I realized that religion might be able to hose things down, get me back to normal so I could have fun without felling guilty or something. I just didn't want to have to think about this guilt crap anymore.
For me, however, there was a mental wall between religion and God. I could walk around inside religion and never, on any sort of emotional level, understand that God was a person, an actual Being with thoughts and feelings and hat sort of thing. To me, God was more of an idea. It was something like a slot machine, a set of spinning images that doled out rewards based on behavior and, perhaps, chance.
The slot-machine God provided a relief for the pinging guilt and a sense of hope that my life would get organized toward a purpose. i was too dumb to test the merit of the slot machine idea. I simply began to pray for forgiveness, thinking the cherries might line up and the light atop the machine would flash, spilling shiny tokens of good fate. What i was doing was more in line with superstition than spirituality. But it worked. If something nice happened to me, I thought it was God, and if something nice didn't, I went back to the slot machine, knelt down in prayer, and pulled the lever a few times. I liked this God very much because you hardly had to talk to it and it never talked back. But the fun never last."
OK.. i lied - it was a little longer than a paragraph. But I love this slot machine idea, because this idea was something that I really struggled with as a kid and so his thinking makes perfect sense to me. What about you?