10 August 2008

Where's that darn kingdom?

Dar Williams* has a wonderful song called “And A God Descended”; the chorus goes...

Well a God descended
And the ‘real time’ ended
His light was lifted just above the law
Now we have to live with what we did with what we saw.

That last line perfectly describes where I find myself today.
What do I do with what I saw?

I know that it’s been several months now since my pretty remarkable trip back east and there’s no question that I’ve done precious little writing about it. Just so you know – I haven’t been writing anywhere. Not in my journal, not in email, not anywhere. I’ve even had a difficult time thinking about it all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not there hasn’t been a lot to think about, but in a certain way I’ve been sort of quietly ruminating on all of it. As if there was subconscious thought going on that had yet to rise to rise to the level of verbosity.

As of Friday afternoon, I think the dam has finally broke and I expect to have a lot to say about everything in the next several weeks, but alas I’m getting ahead of myself...   

For the last several years God has been getting closer and closer. No doubt the majority of that perception is in something that’s hard to articulate because it’s part of that inner life where words make a poor medium of communication, but you know I’ve spent no small amount of time trying to articulate parts of it, either here, in my journal, or in the times I get to speak. But I’d be leaving out huge, important parts if I only mentioned the internal things, because in point of fact there have been a number of external things that have come along as well. (lending credence to the notion that it’s all simply in my head.) It’s a sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic process whereby veils seem to be lifted between me and the supernatural. As that’s happened, certain things have popped out of the Bible that had always been there, but I’d never noticed before. For example:
  • Jesus is walking past the disciples on the water and they think He’s a ghost. Seems like a small mater, but I suddenly realized that the people who walked with Jesus every day thought a specter was a pretty reasonable explanation for what they were seeing. At least more likely, more believable, than Jesus cruising across the waves...hmmm, in all candor I can’t say I fault them. (see an earlier post about ghosts)
  • Or this bit from Hebrews, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of...the laying on of hands” Laying on of hands, and presumably the healing that goes with it, is elementary? Not in my life.
  • In another story a bunch of believers are praying for Peter to be released from jail, but when he gets sprung by an angel and knocks on the door they don’t believe it’s him. They think it’s more likely that it’s an angel at their door than that their prayer has been answered.

That place where the supernatural is normal, ghosts and miracles and angles, that is so NOT the world I live in. Wait...let me rephrase that. That is so not he world I USED TO live in. And as eye-opening as the last few years have been, the trip back to SC was on a whole other level entirely.

What do I do with what I saw? There’s certainly truth to the saying that seeing is believing, but you realize when you see a miracle that the question really isn’t about believing at all. Rather a miracle only begs strongly for any number of explanations and as far as our hearts are concerned, I think we will typically tend to take the explanation that rocks out boat the least. That’s why it was easier to believe in a ghost than in a physical man walking on water – we are faced daily with the reality of gravity . That’s why it was easier to believe in an angel at the door than in someone escaping from prison – those folks knew the cold an bitter efficiency of the Roman legions.

So the ‘miracle’ is often in the explanation we accept. Did Aunt Ruth get well because of the ‘miracle’ of the human immune system or was it because of your prayer?
Just for the record, I plan to use the word miracle in the sense of something that happens due to God’s direct and immediate action, as opposed to some really cool thing, probably a blessing form God as well, but something that would have happened anyway eventually. So while the human body is truly a remarkable thing and ‘miraculous’ in a general sense, that’s not the way in which I plan to use that word here...’nuf said.

So as I’ve chewed on these things I saw, looking to understand them, I’ve come to a number of crossroads:
Do I want to know Jesus, or know about Him?
Do I want to understand the kingdom of God or do I want to live there?
Do I want answers, or do I want life?

Now it’s not as if we can’t have both, but looking back I see what happened to me several years ago was that I read a book, Wild at Heart in this case, and I caught a scent of something in that book - Life. There was something on the wind at that time that suggested that all that I loved about Narnia or Middle Earth, the joy, the adventure, and yes...the magic; this new aroma in the air suggested that it was all real. From that point on, it was as if I were on a mission and I’ve been chasing hard after that Life ever since. Often the trail has led to some places that are deeply uncomfortable from an intellectual or emotional standpoint. When the Spirit started dropping scripture references in my head, not verses that He was bringing to memory, but references to verses I had no memory of...that about blew my gaskets. To get a clear ‘Obadiah 2:7’, then look up this obscure reference to find out it speaks perfectly to what we’re praying about...tat wigged me out. I remember stomping my feet in frustration (Fox was there) ‘No! This isn’t happening! This can’t be God anyway because the reference numbers were added hundreds of years later!’...I look at myself and realize what was really happening in my heart.

God had offended me.

He had offended me by taking my brain out of the circuit and doing something that my over intellectual ego insisted was impossible. Here was something that my natural mind was totally unable to grasp and it really started to freak me out. If I was going to offer something useful to the prayer time it was going to be something I could claim no credit for. I don’t know the Bible that well. I don’t know what Psalm 77:8 says, but it’s exactly what the person across from me needs. So Smarty-Pants-Skaggs, holder of wisdom beyond his years, gets the glorious task of being a desk librarian as God assigns research to-dos.

I’m not certain, but I think that season was the first overtly supernatural experience I had, at least the first that was sustained and went beyond some singular event that defied explanation...and could then be promptly forgotten. And I distinctly remember the moment where I knew that I could turn it all off...or instead I could embrace it and hang on for the ride, understanding be damned. What’s wonderful is that understanding has come, and I’m certain it will continue to come, but it came SECOND. (By the way, that still happens to me, and it still kinda weirds me out sometimes)

You see I eventually I came to a conclusion that is so plainly obvious to me now, but was totally beyond my paradigm then: God was speaking to me, and I heard him.
There, that’s not so hard.

That was where I started to wake up to the fact that the unspoken, disappointing and sometimes embarrassing truth about my walk with Christ was that it was totally devoid of ‘magic,’ if you’ll pardon the term. But it’s impossible to describe the God of the Bible, and especially the Jesus we Christians call our king, without talking about miracles. So many of the truly important things in the Bible are specifically described as being ‘beyond understanding’, so why did I insist on understanding them.

Spirit is higher than reason.

It’s of a higher dimension, a deeper reality. The more a thing is spiritual, the more my natural mind is simply unfit to grasp it. The realization that my heart can grasp the deeper things of God far better than my head was a huge eureka moment and the reward has been seeing my heart tutor my mind in a process almost opposite of what so many Christians describe as their life. Instead of truth migrating from my head to my heart, I’ve been blessed to watch the opposite occur. And I can’t tell you how much better that way is. It’s not that I find the spiritual violating the laws of reason, but rather the Spirit world is essentially inaccessible to the natural world and the natural mind – it’s a one way door. The ‘rules’ that govern he kingdom of heaven are perfectly consistent and perfectly reasonable once you know them. But it’s impossible to reason your way from our physical world to ‘God gave His only Son.’

I fear I’m rambling now. The point I wanted to start with as I unravel these things is this: for myself, I just don’t feel the need to ‘get it’ anymore. I have enough trust in who God is that I can let go of that pressure to understand before I follow. And when it comes to miracles, getting hung up on ‘getting it’ first is a serious impediment.

Of all the things I saw at Morningstar, there is one that I feel to be the most profound, the most inscrutable - but it also sounds trivial or at least incidental to everything else that went on.

At some point, thought I really can’t remember when, I felt a large drop of water hit my shoulder and then another a few moments later.

Big deal huh?

Here’s the thing, it wasn’t raining outside and the roof wasn’t leaking...it was raining inside the atrium.

At the time, I remember looking up, slightly irritated and thinking that the roof WAS leaking and this water seemed like an unwelcome distraction from a really good teaching...wow...even as I write that I feel convicted. Anyway, self-flagellation aside, I didn’t think about it all for a few hours until Rick Joyner mentioned something from the front. He said that some other people had mentioned the leaky roof but he said, “no, no it’s not a leaky roof.” It was only then that I thought, “wait, what is he suggesting?” That’s when I remembered the woman I sat down next to nudging me with this ‘I know a secret’ look in here eyes. She put her elbow in my ribs and said ‘It was raining there earlier...’ and I’m thinking ‘I just sat next to a kook. I’ve heard of these people.’ But you know, the guy started speaking and I forgot about her. But here I am now thinking to myself, “Rain? Like ‘Holy Spirit raaaaaain down?’”

For these last few months, that experience has had this really strange effect on me. There was no spirit ‘pow’, no sense of God’s particular presence, just the Holy Spirit’s sort of underwhelming physical manifestation in the form of real, tangible (drinkable?) water. And if I’d stepped out of the room to get more coffee, I would have totally missed it, or at least it’s significance. To be quite honest, I’ve also had some real doubt in my mind if it really happened at all but part of the epiphany of this Friday was a video. It seems that particular manifestation has happened one other time at Morningstar since I left, and this time...they got it on tape! Honest to goodness, they have this video of water falling from nowhere into the outstretched hands of the people there. I WIGGED when I saw that. What’s more, somebody dug up an old photo of that room from the 80’s when it was a hotel. And EXACTLY where I was sitting, and EXACTLY where this second event took place, there used to be a small pool and (I think) a fountain.

I really don’t have anything more meaningful to say about this indoor rain except that I felt it, and I wasn’t the only one. And really, I don’t expect it to be meaningful to anybody who reads this or hears about. But somehow I feel that those two drops say something far more important about God than any of the hundreds of healings I witnessed. It’s like I feel roots penetrating my heart but nothing has broken the surface yet so I have no idea what kind of seed was planted. Maybe I’ll have something interesting to say about it in time, but for now all In know is that God physically touched me...hmmm...that’s the first time I’ve put it that way and suddenly I’m a little scared.
Um...moving on...

Simply put, I didn’t understand it then, I don’t understand it now, and I’m comfortable with the notion that I may never understand it. In fact, I’m open to the very real liklihood that really there is no explanation other than God is really cool and really cool things happen around him because it’s His nature. When I think too much about it, it becomes a couple of drops of water. When I let go of all that, it becomes a wide gaping gash in the veil between heaven and earth; another piece of evidence that God is God and He loves me, He even gives me water from nowhere...becasue He can.
* For the record, I don’t think Dar’s a Christian (a God?), but this song definitely belongs on the Jesus You Might Have Missed CD

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