This morning during some restful time in the Lord I was meditating on the phrase, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner. This is an Eastern Orthodox prayer that is called the Jesus Prayer. I really love this prayer. I love the simplicity. I love how it draws me into Christ. I love the tension that the prayer creates.

My eyes this morning were opened a little wider to the fullness of this prayer.

I have always viewed the last part of the prayer, have mercy on me, a sinner, as the cry of the death row convict about to be sent to the gallows. And the Lord being full of mercy, looking down on this pitiful case and saying, Yes, release that man. I will have mercy on him. And I the guilty and condemned, have my shackles from my wrists and legs removed once again. (not to get me wrong there are times for this)

I wonder how beneficial this consistent “Prison Break” theology is, to the Lord and me. Every morning planning my escape from this wretched, sinful state and yearning again for the mercy of God. Does this self identified sinner who always proclaims his sinfullness ever really get out of the orange jumpsuit?

But I heard differently this morning. Mercy was not something I wish I could have applied to me to some how cancel out my being a sinner. It was more.

Mercy was ON me. Remember when you were first in love. When this happens to someone we say, “Oh, you have fallen into love.” Love is sticky and when you fall into love one thing happens, you get love ON you. Saturated and infatuated, every smell reminds you of your lover, every moment your heart feels like it will explode.

Well this morning mercy fell on me, or maybe I fell into Mercy. Mercy became my possesion. Mercy was tangible. Mercy was On me. Around me. Before me and after me.

Paradox. Paradoxes fill the Bible. And this morning I stumbled across another. That mercy would rest in a container called, a sinner. Lord, there are so many better containers for your mercy. I can understand how the Lord would choose a gold embossed ark, a beautiful temple, or a perfect Eden garden to contain himself. But a sinner?

Imagine this. You are poor and destitute. You have no money. Someone comes to you a, poor beggar, and gives you a million dollars to hand out. Dispense as needed is the only command from the willing benefactor. What does this change in you? Nothing really. For at the end of the day you will still be what you are, a poor beggar.

But when you the beggar hear each morning, when someone asks the rich benefactor, “Who do you have dispense your great wealth?” And the rich benefactor call out to you, the poor beggar, to come forward and says, “I have given all my riches, all my favor, all my resources to him. See the gold, the silver ON this man.” And as he smiles approvingly he mentions, “And by the way did you know that this man is a poor beggar…”

Something in me changes. For today he has given Mercy to be ON me, and by the way I am a sinner.

Paradox for sure. But this is paradox I can live with.