Archive for October, 2011
So often in life I feel answers are required of me that I don’t have. More often than not these questions or problems don’t go away. They sit patiently, sometimes not so patiently, waiting for me to make a move. As I am growing into being a self-sustained, independent adult I realize that if I don’t possess an answer I better get off my duff and find otherwise this problem is going to get a lot worse.
Sadly, we rarely corral our critical thinking and when we are programmed into thinking and responding a certain way in a certain situation it leaks over into the other areas of decision making. It easily becomes our go to response when we don’t know something. Find the answer or make one up!
This is never a good thing but when leadership holds to this controlling fear of unknowing things can get messy. How often do you hear a pastor or politician (yes, I put those 2 together) say, “I don’t know the answer to that.” I’ve heard this a few times but never with that phrasing. It usually comes across as, “Well what do you say to this? Hmm?” or “How do you explain this away?” or even better “You know I think you’re wrong but it really is a mystery.” These are almost direct quotes from leadership concerning things that they didn’t know but couldn’t concede the point.
To avoid spiritual abuse and mishandling of leadership authority let’s be careful to not always feel the pressure to come up with answer. If there is no food in the fridge and the kids are hungry figure something out, now. However, if it’s a mystery that concerns the Holy One, try sitting on it for awhile. We don’t always need to know everything, we never will anyway so why try now? Give God a chance to visit with the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. If all else fails simply respond with, “I don’t know about that one.” It won’t hurt too bad, I promise.
It’s happened enough for me to notice a pattern. I’m usually pretty quick to notice patterns; I think it’s part of what makes me such a fast learner. Perhaps you’ve noticed the same thing. Or maybe it keeps happening to you and you don’t know why, if so it’s probably because you aren’t observant to notice the pattern. Not to fear, there is always a another day to learn something new.
You will go through an experience, a new or fresh experience that rewrites how you look at the world. Maybe it’s a conference, a book, an encounter, or just time away with your mind on matters other than the daily grind. It’s usually the latter for me. When entering back into the normal routine you notice a tenderness to the Lord. You feel such sensitivity to His Spirit. Whatever fresh revelation or rest you just acquired sticks with you back into “real life” and it makes everything so much more pleasant. Everything seems brighter, fresher, and more alive. Worship is easy, prayer is like breath, and everything is covered with that sweet gooey grace that was poured out through said prior experience/encounter.
Then slowly (or sometimes, very quickly) that feeling begins to fade. You notice things aren’t as bright as before. Where you might have patience for anything you find yourself snappy and unhappy. What was easy is now fully back to normal and the sweetness that was once there has vanished. It may very well be that this is just an essay on my personal struggle but there is a faint hope that there is someone else who knows what I’m talking about and can relate.
I’ve taken 3 notable trips this year where afterward it felt like I have been given a clean slate. On our return there was that sweetness with the Lord and the ease of tangibly feeling His presence. All 3 were trips to the ocean in spring, summer, and now fall. Somewhere amidst the crashing waves, the deep blue and the towering cliffs my soul has found rest and I have found an equilibrium with the Father. Union is second-nature and nothing is more natural than to walk by His side and feel His love.
While in this state of peace and Divine love everything is easier. Problems, work issues, marital disagreements, rude people, and general life upsets are handled with an ease that can only be attributed to marinating in the Holy Spirit. I’m sure there are many people who consider this an elementary level and walk in perfect Communion with the Father’s heart at all times. However, for me it is a process that is being refined. When I find myself in this place I never want to leave. I call affectionately to the Lord and say, “Please don’t let this end, I don’t want this nearness to leave, stay with me!” And I say it with desperation.
Then, slowly, it slips away. You find yourself the same grumpy, impatient, stressed out person that you were before. What gives? Where is the disconnect? Are we destined to hop-scotch our way through life from experience to experience? I would like to suggest that it not be so.
I read. A lot. There are few people who I know that read more than me. I’m always reading a book (or 2…or 3 or 4), reading the news, reading quirky stories, tech news, tons of blogs, pop-culture sites, and humour sites, the list can really go on for a long time but you get the idea. I said to Sonja the other day, “I realized that I literally read all day long. I read while eating breakfast, read all day at work, read at lunch, read some when I get home, and read before bed. I read all day.” The realization of that hit me pretty strong. That is SO much information. Where does it all go? I can remember quite a bit from the data I acquired through the day but it’s really nothing compared to sheer volume of info I ingest. I had to ask myself some hard questions like where that stuff was going and how it was affecting me. Most of it, I can admit, did just go through me. It was entertaining at the time but my retention level, which may be great, still couldn’t compete with all the data I was cramming into my brain, it just fell out the other side. So then, what short-term effects did this material have on me? If there weren’t any long-term side-effects like my brain getting bigger, how was this effecting me?
Around March of this year I made some huge cuts in what I took in. I purged a vast amount of my music that wasn’t feeding my spirit. I stopped reading a lot of the websites that may have been a little off-colour and stopped watching movies with themes that affected my spirit negatively. That helped tremendously. I suddenly found myself with a clearer head and an ability to see and hear clearly. I began to listen to the IHOP prayer room which began a stream of fresh life into my soul. The result was rather shocking that by changing what I read was really switching the faucet to clean water. It’s not that what I was reading was perverted, evil stuff, it was just not necessarily material I would let my mom read.
A couple more trips to the ocean and time with Jesus began to show me that you only have so much room in your spirit. Or at least I do. If you picture your spirit as a pipe that channels everything spiritual from its source into your heart you will have some picture of how I figure it. If you put dirty water through that pipe it will begin to stick to the sides and slow the flow of everything else. If you put clean water through that pipe it will function smoothly and stay in good condition for a very long time.
Now I find myself looking at the “water” I am feeding myself. After time away and closeness with the Lord I find my pipes cleaned, if you pardon the analogy, and now I have to decide whether to enter life as usual. Clearly my normal routine of intake is not as healthy as it could be. This is evidenced by the junk that has had to be chipped away at by the Fathers gentle, loving chisel. Even though my literary diet is relatively neutral I have to admit it’s not exactly healthy.
Slowly, I begin to connect that dimming glory of intimacy with the water flowing through my spirit. It may be tap water but it’s not coming from a pure source. There are no nutrients inherent to the material I’m consuming, it just is what it is, nothing more.
The truth is there is a cost to pursuing the pleasures of God. You can’t chase both what you want in the moment and what you want in the long run. There has to be a decision made from a place of maturity that says, “I want this now but this is foolish, this is temporal, this is cheap. This won’t get me to where I ultimately want to be.”
If you drink wine you know what I am talking about. I never used to like wine and then slowly began to develop a taste for it. I scoffed at the idea of expensive wine, content with whatever was cheapest or free. Wine snobs were exactly that, snobs. However, I slowly had the opportunity to try good wine, then better wine, and finally great wine. My palate suddenly started to shift its baseline that told me that, “$8 Beringer is pretty good” to “$40 Hatcher is where it’s at.” After repeatedly being exposed to true quality my desire for the lesser began to fade. I now find myself with more and more expensive tastes, desiring that which is better.
The cost of a clean and vibrant spirit can be expensive. It is directly related to how fascinated you are with the lesser, the cheap, and the easily attainable. It’s not always easy to turn off that great indie band and pursue His presence. It’s not first nature to shift from me time to God time. But I’m finding myself more and more hungry for a meal that satisfies. I’m not finding it where I used to. My current diet cannot support the growing life inside of me. There’s a pulsing in my chest, a yearning for substance. If I don’t feed that desire it will go away. But I don’t want it to. I want it to stay, I want it to overcome me. I want the pursuit and enjoyment of God to be my one life’s desire. I find myself less and less concerned with ambition, planning, and self-betterment. I discover that I am really only wanting one thing, one passion above all other passions.
If I only have room for one pursuit in my life I want it to be Him. I’ll make the call and cut off whatever needs to be cut. If it’s true that I only have so much room in my life then I want that room to be inhabitated by the Holy and not the profane or even the mundane. I feel that this is the secret ingredient that changes normal people into extraordinary people. This may be why so few attain what they are called to. We’re content with the cheap wine and the want of the moment. We have to feed the hunger for a fuller meal and a life of substance. In the secret place we find satisfaction that lasts. We can return from the ocean and life will stay green, bright, and alive. Love will remain.