Random Blog Clay Feet: April 18, 2008
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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Great Awakening and Growing Past Writing

I woke up a little after 4 A.M. this morning and was quietly meditating when a few minutes later the bed began to shake and the house started creaking. I was certain that the cat was jumping on the rocking chair at the end of the bed and was bumping it against the bed posts, but it seemed like a rather heavy cat to make that much movement. My wife woke up and asked what was going on. I told her that it was likely the cat but she said the cat was sleeping beside her so it couldn't be a cat. I then concluded that it must have been an earthquake – the first that I have ever personally experienced.

About six hours later I was sitting here in my chair writing the following thoughts when again the house began to creak and shake and the grandfather clock began to bump the chimes as all the cats looked around to see what was happening. I found it rather exciting to again experience an earthquake firsthand since it was not serious enough to do any damage. I have not yet checked the news to see what happened but this evidently is a very earth-shaking day in my life. I don't know what is coming since it has just started but I trust God to guide me through whatever happens.

Occasionally I have questioned why I feel so compelled to write so much of the time. It is not something I have done for most of my life for it has only been in the past few years that it has increasingly become almost an obsession with me. Because of that I sometimes feel concerned that it might be becoming maybe something of an unhealthy addiction for me that I should be more aware of.

I do not believe that it is yet to that level, at least most of the time. I do think that it has the potential for becoming an escape avenue for me at times and I need to beware of using it improperly in this way. As with many addictions, especially acceptable-looking ones like workaholism or religious busyness, there may not be so much inherently wrong with the activity itself as in the way it is used in the life. Whenever something or someone is used to escape responsibility, acknowledge problems or to face reality, then it can quickly begin to function as an addiction.

But that last point becomes a strong issue of contention and disagreement depending on an observer's beliefs about what constitutes reality. Reality is perceived quite differently by different people, societies and even how old you are. But one thing I have come to believe very strongly is that the only true reality is that which is revealed to us by the Spirit of God. Every other belief about what is real, about what is going on in our relationships with everyone else on earth, is simply a very strongly biased opinion in our own minds from our extremely limited, handicapped perspective. No matter how many people may share our beliefs of what is real or how forceful they may insist on others adopting their beliefs it has no effect whatsoever on what is truly real. Only God is positioned strategically accurate enough to be qualified to explain reality.

So what does that have to do at all with my ponderings about why I write? Well, it may have a lot to do with it. A number of years ago when I first began to practice inductive Bible study in my personal quiet time I discovered to my amazement that very often I found I could hear the Spirit of God dialogging with me much more distinctly whenever I began to write down the impressions and questions that arose whenever I studied. I now try to be very careful to maintain a mind as open as possible during these times of conversation with God so as not to discolor His messages with my prejudices and pre-conceived ideas. I cannot say that I am completely free of those problems for I know they still pop up many times, but the reason they become exposed as much as they do is because I strive to be willing to have them challenged by the Spirit during these times of meditation.

What I think I am saying right now is that the very process of writing has become for me a very powerful tool of conversation with God unlike nearly anything else I can think of. As such, I more and more find myself wanting to write at even the strangest times whenever I sense new thoughts coming to my mind or new insights energizing my heart. And another one of the reasons I desire to write is because of my weakness of memory. For some time now I have known that if I don't capture almost immediately in a more permanent form than simply a mental note, some idea or insight or even something I want to do, that it very soon evaporates to possibly never be seen again. It is almost like catching a fleeting glimpse of an overwhelmingly beautiful person and the memory of the lost opportunity to engage with that person more permanently haunts one for many years to come.

But what has emerged from repeated lost insights is maybe a growing fear that is based on yet another lie that has been a foundational belief inherent in human religion. That lie is the deep-seated, gut-level belief that one can be saved by knowledge. This belief sums up very much the basic concept of much of the religion that I have lived in for most of my life. Of course it was never stated in those words for then it would obviously lose its deceptive cover. But it has become increasingly clear to me that false ideas about religion depend heavily on this idea of knowledge somehow being our savior.

The knowledge itself may not be false at all. Most people including myself whenever they subconsciously depend on knowledge to secure them a place in paradise are very diligent to make sure to the best of their ability that the knowledge they possess is as accurate and defendable as possible. In fact, many spend their whole life working very hard to amass all the backup arguments, research, schooling and logic possible to secure their opinions about what is right, what is true and what will get a person saved. Unfortunately they are unwittingly following in the footsteps of millions before them that they usually disdain while they unwittingly imitate their example. The Pharisees were a good illustration of clinging to truth more than to the Originator of truth. Because we know the outcome of their story and Jesus' comments about them we have a very difficult time seeing ourselves in them, but if we are honest before God we will be convicted that we are far more like them than we ever care to admit. It is the Spirit's work to convict us of our true condition and the similarities we have with those who have lived before us.

I sense that some of this spirit is always present to influence and sidetrack my thinking processes and my heart in my own pursuit of finding truth. Because it is so familiar to me and so much a part of my culture and background it is impossible to be free of the tendency to begin reverting to an attitude of depending on knowledge and “truth” in place of deepening an intimate, totally dependent relationship with my Savior, Creator, Redeemer and Lover. While I am learning many wonderful truths along this line and am experiencing them to a greater degree at the heart level, I am still entangled far too much in the trap of subtly depending on what I know more than Who I know. I am in transition from one view of religion to something completely new and different and it takes a long time to transform the deeper levels of the heart to function in this new mode of belief. The head may embrace that this is the right way to live before God but the real beliefs deep in the heart take much, much longer to assimilate this radically different way of living.

So I suspect that these factors may be part of what is disturbing me at times whenever I question my compulsive desires to write. I want to be careful not to be sucked back into the false security of depending on knowledge in place of complete dependence on God's love, God's wisdom and God's presence. While knowledge is very essential and important, when knowledge about God becomes subtly more important to me than the condition of my spirit then I have once again slipped into the most common deception of religion and I must return to proper dependence on His Spirit to lead me instead of my own knowledge and wisdom.

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:3-6)

As I look up some of the original Hebrew behind the key words in this passage I want to excitedly share the deeper insights that are hiding in these verses. But right now I want to finish the original line of thought that I started with. Even in this writing I am listening to whatever is coming into my spirit and staying open to influence and thoughts from the Holy Spirit as to what He wants me to know about myself and about this issue. I always try to let Him influence the direction of the conversation.

I want to be open to conviction as well as to exciting insights, I want to have an open time of conversation with God and the act of writing is for me a way to capture both sides of the conversation as it is happening. It appears when reading it after the fact that all of the ideas came from my own mind but that is very seldom the case. In fact, whenever I feel that most of my writing is my own ideas I start to feel quite alarmed that my left brain has taken over once again and has hijacked the process and I am leaning on my own understanding.

One thing that came to me earlier this morning about this issue is my need to deal with this fear of losing something important. Anytime I find fear at work I have red flags shooting up warning me that something is amiss and needs to be corrected. Fear never originates with God for God has not given us a spirit of fear. So when I find fear in my heart about anything then I know that there is an area that needs more grace, more truth and especially more of the presence of God in that place in my heart. These are very common revelations for me now and so they come as no surprise but more as assignments for me to pay attention to. They are convictions by God's Spirit pointing out areas of unsettledness in my heart that need to be re-formed, areas that likely contain secret beliefs that are still sabotaging my heart from being more alive and free and able to receive and share love.

I don't yet have a settled answer for some of these questions that I am raising here. But I am not so afraid of unanswered questions as I once was because I am far less dependent on knowledge to be my savior. I used to be very frightened if I did not possess the “right” answer for important religious questions and I was taught that fear as a motivation to more studiously learn the doctrines and traditions of my church. The culture of having the right truth was usually taught with the background atmosphere of fear and the unspoken implication was that if I did not have enough truth (meaning primarily intellectual knowledge) that I was in great danger of being deceived and then being lost. This style of thinking is very prevalent not only in my church even today but in many religions throughout the world. It reflects the penchant to live in reference to the externals and the intellectual arena more than listening to the Spirit in reference to the synchronization of my spirit with that of heaven.

What I do seem to be sensing a little more lately is – if I perceive it correctly – an invitation to grow into a more efficient way of living from the heart than that which I have been practicing for several years. Maybe it is something akin to being invited to move up from the relative security of riding a tricycle to learning to ride a bicycle (with training wheels at first of course). Never mind graduating to riding a unicycle! (Although in the physical world I enjoy doing that on occasion – I have two in my garage.) What I wonder is, if God is asking me to begin learning to listen more in real time for His wisdom instead of depending so much on my comfortable times of meditating on His Word and writing out the dialog we have together. I am not saying that these times should cease or are in some way unnecessary, but I also realize that limiting my speed of growth the the very cumbersome act of writing and trying to capture heart insights in words may be preventing me from experiencing the next level of joy and service that He has planned for me.

Something I heard in a dream this morning has stuck in my mind. It was a comment that I made to someone else that I realized I needed to apply to myself and possibly may have sparked this whole conversation. I cannot remember the exact words but it was something along the line of words not being able to express things of the heart very well. Language was never designed to effectively convey the much deeper and broader things of the heart even though we spend much of our life struggling to do just that. The heart was created for eternity and to embrace the far greater dimensions of God, and attempting to use human language to be an outlet for the heart is simply an exercise in frustration.

Maybe that is the frustration that is driving this dialog right now. I find it both very helpful to explore together these things as I listen to the Spirit while at the same time I feel also very restricted because it takes so many words to express such seemingly simple feelings I sense at the heart level. And the words never really do justice anyway to what the heart wants to express and so language becomes something of a prison of sorts that confines the heart behind the bars of the words. It is sort of like trying to see a beautiful scene through a barrier with pinholes punched in it. One has to keep moving back and forth to piece together the various glimpses of light coming through the holes to try to reconstruct in the imagination what might be on the other side. What we really desire is for the barrier to be torn down and our eyes to be allowed to see the full flood of beauty without the obstructions and filters that restrict our view.

What I am starting to desire and that I am feeling invited to move toward is what might be termed “real-time wisdom”. It makes me think of the passage in Romans 8 that describes being led by the Spirit of God and what that kind of life can look like. I sense that God wants to move me beyond my current, clumsy way of thinking to a more Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, Spirit-inspired, real-time way of living that is open and connected with the heart and feelings and wisdom of my Father in heaven. I have always liked the analogy of an umbilical cord connecting me to the life of God through which I can receive all the nourishment and life that I need to thrive and grow and mature. I don't think we will be able to live the fuller life without this umbilical cord until we are free from this dark womb of sinful earth and our sinful flesh.

What I am now desiring is that my umbilical cord will become more of an ongoing, minute-by-minute connection instead of just a period of feeding time when I intentionally spend time in God's presence. I am not saying at all that I will outgrow my need for intentional quiet time with God on a daily basis. Being led by the Spirit does not mean that I no longer need times of intense mentoring and instruction and conviction from the Holy Spirit. But in addition to those times I need to be willing to allow God to share wisdom with me much more effectively on an as-needed basis, what people in industry call JOS, and not feel that everything must be recorded in words to be a significant part of my training.

I need to be more free of the fear of forgetting something important that God is showing me. I do think that it is helpful and even deepens the effectiveness of the things I am learning to process it through the act of writing. But most of the time I cannot even recall most of what I wrote yesterday and am realizing that just because I write something down doesn't mean that I have really internalized it or can even recall it. What it does do is help me deepen its effect on me during the moment that I am learning it. This is more important than trusting that I will remember it because it is written down some place.

The relationship of trust that I must learn to live in with God is that the same God who shared insights with me in the past can re-share them with me whenever I need them. If writing them down helps to deepen their hold on my mind and open my heart to absorb them more completely while I am receiving them, then writing will be a useful means for receiving some of the blessings and wisdom God chooses to share with me. But much more importantly I want to learn to live in a constant dynamic communication of my heart and my spirit with the heart and Spirit of God so that I will be ready and in a right frame of mind to receive and hear clearly whatever God is waiting to relay to me or to remind me. As God communicates with all of the listening children on earth the Spirit will be able to coordinate God's plans for this planet and will not only accomplish His desires in our lives but will bond us closer to each other in the love and unity that is the trademark of the children of God.

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)