"I do not think it means what you think it means."
It started with a question. It always starts with a question. Blame it on that insatiable appetite for Nancy Drew Mysteries I had growing up. Or maybe it's just 'cuz He knows His creation, and this particular one seems to enjoy finding answers to questions.
This morning's question:
"What does it mean to walk in the spirit?"
That can only mean one thing.
What I think is the correct answer will, in fact, be wrong. It also means I've been laboring under some delusion.
Whenever God poses a question a launch sequence for transformation is activated.
Let me explain.
My will (the part that wants to solve a mystery) is intrigued by the question and sends out a message to the rest of my being.
"Attention brain! We've been asked to find our answer to a God question! Locate all cells holding any information linked to our current definition of 'walking in the spirit' and bring that information front and center."
This is followed by an immediate convergence of memories, thoughts, ideas, cynical judgments, delightful speculations, embarrassing missteps,thought processes and conclusions reached that can have an emotional range of comprehension anywhere between my current age and any years previous.
Translation: A memory from when I was 3 connected to a confusing experience has all the earmarks of a 3 year old's reasoning capabilities. It might be standing right next to a 40 year old judgment made at a pivotal moment of emotional pain. There can be 100's or 1,000's or maybe only 1. Regardless of the number, all are present and ready to hear a deeper truth. Submit to a higher law, and embrace a light-producing revelation specific to the issue at hand. In this morning's case, that issue was my understanding and beliefs concerning the phrase 'walking in the spirit'.
This muster of memories is usually followed by a reiteration of the original question. To which my response is usually a silent acknowledgment that I haven't an accurate, intelligent or legitimate answer. This awareness is coupled with a hope-filled expectation that Truth is about to be revealed and many things are going to be rectified. Things that, for the most part, I have heretofore been unaware of.
Then, when He has my attention (which has taken all of a second or two), the Spirit of God speaks truth. This morning it was a single word - although hyphenated - that set to right previously held misconceptions concerning this issue.
And like alligator feeding time at the Reptile Gardens, all those disconnected sound-bites of information grab on to that one hyphenated word. And instantly the disjointed parts of the internal me begin to unite.
"What does that mean?' A young memory holder asks.
Knowledge responds excitedly with, "It's a fruit of the Spirit!"
"So, it's not something weird," offers pragmatism.
"Or out of my control?!"
"If long-suffering is walking in the spirit, then so is love and joy and peace!"
"Patience, gentleness, kindness, & self-control!"
That's when the Spirit of God interrupts the party going on in my head with another question...
"So what does that mean?"
There is a momentary silence while the previously disenfranchised recognize their new state of harmony.
"It means that walking in the spirit is a choice!"
I do an internal face-palm, and smile again.
It's a choice. Simple as that. When I choose love, I'm walking in the spirit. When I choose peace, I'm walking in the spirit. When I choose kindness, I'm walking in the spirit.
Then God asks another question. Does walking in the spirit make you a hypocrite?
Again, the momentary silence while there is a convergence in my mind.
I smile. Then shake my head in that all-too-familiar sensation of surrendered ignorance.
"No, because it's a choice. I can choose to walk in selfishness or love, bitterness or peace, weakness or joy, frustration, annoyance, and irritation or long-suffering."
Do I feel rage, discouragement, fear, hate, and all manner of ugliness? Yes. More often than I care to admit. But walking in the spirit is simply making a choice that says in spite of how I might want to react I'm going to respond differently.
Suddenly the verse, "walk in the spirit and you won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh," is something I can wrap my mind around. When my flesh wants to strike out in an unkind way, I can choose to be kind. Or patient. Or gentle. Or maybe just long-suffering.
Today I choose to walk in the spirit. Tomorrow I might make a different choice. I hope not.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
The Bible tells us that the way we live our lives flows from what is in our hearts, and warns us to – above all else – guard our hearts. (Proverbs 4:23)
And because a broken heart destroys our ability to have a trust-filled relationship with God it's really important to have a heart that is whole and healed. Jesus came to heal broken hearts. (Luke 4:18)
What is the heart? Think about a radio. Invisible radio waves are traveling through the air at the speed of light. You're surrounded by them right now - just because they are non-visible doesn't mean they're nonexistent. A radio is designed to indiscriminately capture those invisible, imperceptible waves and retransmit the original sound at a frequency our human ears are capable of hearing. We all know what it's like when static, or two different sources fight for space in the same station. To continue listening to the static-garbled station is frustrating and pointless so we switch to a clearer station or turn the radio off completely.
Like those radios, human hearts and brains are both designed to receive information as well. Brains receive information from the physical world through the five senses and hearts receive information from the non-visible world of spiritual beliefs. Both indiscriminately take in information, determine what is relevant and worthy to be sent on to our minds for processing. Unfortunately the conclusions our minds reach with that information are often skewed.
Then, because an unguarded heart is so quickly overwhelmed by the enemy's lies, it often transmits conflicting messages which come through as nonsense or interfering static. Our mind quits trying to sort it out and ignores the heart information, relying instead, on what comes in through the physical senses; effectively shutting out truth.
Still we forge on, broken-hearted, wondering why God is silent and life isn’t working. The process of healing a broken heart, to make it possible to receive the Truth of God’s love is absolutely vital and the only way to live a life in harmony with your Creator.
If you've already covered the basics: forgiveness, repentance, acceptance... and if you are tired of the static-filled, conflicting messages and garbled nonsense that comes from a broken heart, maybe it's time to call on the One Who can heal your broken receiver. He's really good at it!