Monday, November 14, 2016

Suspending skepticism

Hidden Berries--Peter Wood
"Our culture has cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes...(yet) We are required to 'bet our life' that the visible world, while real, is not reality itself."--Dallas Willard.

I ran across the quote above last night and it brought home to me the profound gulf that exists in our society between the skeptical and those who believe.  The skeptic is elevated to the highest positions of thought in our culture.  All statements must be backed up by multiple corroborating sources and hedged in tightly by arrogant doubt alongside the caveat that more research should be conducted. Once, when I said I could see both sides of an issue, my husband responded, "but which side are you on?"  I love his clarity. 

As a consultant, I need to see all sides of an issue.  As an engineer, I have to make a decision and rely on it.  I have to recognize that I will never know everything I want to know about an issue and choose to believe some things and disregard others.  Having a life with God is contingent on recognizing skepticism and intentionally choosing to let it go. In the Amplified version, Hebrews 11:6 tells us: 

"Without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him."

Ironically, our "prove it" culture has a macabre fascination with the supernatural--as long as it's not related to God.  So many see occult practices as innocent and exciting while God is boring and confining. We can revel in meditation or astrology but a belief in God would require something from us, not the least of which could be giving up our right to be our own god.  

So where's the problem?  The problem is that there is real power in the unseen and a war that is being waged for the unseen souls of mankind. Those who are dead to it are easily robbed in their blindness but could never recognize what has been stolen. Those who dabble in spiritual matters are like toddlers playing with loaded handguns. The battlefield is only measurably safe for hardened, trained soldiers, yet we are born into that battlefield and casualties surround us all.  

Dallas goes on to say, "God's spiritual invasions into human life seem, by their very gentleness, to invite us to explain them away...We are hindered in our progress toward becoming spiritually competent people by how easily we can explain away the movements of God toward us.  They go meekly without much protest.  Of course God's day will come, but for now he cooperates with the desires and inclinations that make up our character, as we gradually become the kind of people we will forever be.  That should send a chill down our spine."  

God is not the forceful lover of a rape fantasy romance novel.  He respects us and waits for us to come to Him as free agents, of our own accord.  Even in the Bible, there are remarkably few times that God steps unveiled before the eyes of mankind.  He stopped Saul on the road to Damascus, but Saul honestly believed he was doing God's will, and an honest follower will be corrected.  A wandering dilettante will be allowed to meander.  

So what about you?  Is it possible to relinquish the need to know it all fully before being fully known?  Can you hear the still, unseen voice that pleads for your heart?  Interestingly enough, what has been seen and experienced cannot then be "unseen."  Suspend disbelief for even a moment and the spirit realm comes alive, like the gentle flutter of a butterfly's wings or sweet berries hidden behind lush foliage. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Special Type of Gratitude

20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Eph 5:20

This was the verse the Holy Spirit stopped me on this morning, so I began to thank Him for all He has provided:

  • the ability to work
  • my children
  • the clicking of Sally's nails on the tile as she follows me around the house
  • a Sophie ball
  • pain that shows me boundaries
  • healing that frees me to follow
This felt surprisingly empty.  

Then the Spirit stopped me and made me reread the verse.  Give thanks to the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This means thanking Him for what Jesus is thankful for not just for what I'm thankful for.  When I asked what Jesus was thankful for, the answers stirred my sleeping heart:
  • Friendship with God
  • the closeness provided by Your Spirit
  • growing peace
  • images to understand how You make all things new
  • eyes to see both Your work and how you work with us to create beauty
  • rescues through intercession
I could feel the gratitude of the Son welling up in me toward the Father and the Spirit for all they do.  I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit breathing new life into my praise.  What a grace!

Now you try!