The eagle has not landed
I wanted to go somewhere one Thursday evening. I planned it in advance, got the email confirmation and was fully committed – spiritually and mentally. I was really looking forward to going – the event presented a chance to knock on a door of opportunity. However, the day before the event it snowed. Not just a dusting, but the kind that causes Heathrow Airport to shut down – the proper kind with flakes that dance and jive in the air.
I was still positive, believing that God wanted me to go. So I prayed and kept a beady eye on the window all through the day at work; thinking that if God wanted me to go, he would literally blow a hot torch on the ground and get an eagle to fly over to my house, pick me up and deposit me by the venue.
However, the eagle with a sign saying "Rosie's Avian Taxi" did not come to my door. To say I was perplexed does not cut it. I was angry and a bit confused. Why had the snow not stopped? I asked God the question, "Did you want me to knock on this door or not?" The answer hit me between the eyes, "Sometimes it just snows."
It sounds ever so simple doesn't it? I want to get across this point: we ARE spiritual beings living in a supernatural way, destined to be in eternity with the creator of the universe. This is MINDBLOWING. But can we sometimes "over and uber" spiritualise things that are just snow?
Everything is spiritual... almost; or as my dad likes to put it... "Nearly right"
We can, at times, over-spiritualise a situation. At the moment church is an incredibly challenging place. Whilst there is nowhere I would rather be on a Sunday, it can feel like I am going to get lifted up and I end up so wrung out and exhausted that I need another weekend to get over it!
We can move ourselves into a place where we are in a constant "God is doing stuff" mode, which is perfectly fine. However, does God not also call us to rest? In Matthew chapter 11, verse 28 it says, "Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." It is right to presume that the intention of Jesus is that his flock has times of lying down and munching grass and times of journeying. Can God also be a God of just "being" rather than "doing?" And, if we are all walking around with a "God is doing stuff" sign, how do we minister to each other?
I want to be careful here. I want to distinguish between the deep-seated, at times painful, transformation that God lovingly commits to every day with us. I want to distinguish between THIS and what is mentioned above – between confusing snow with "an act of God".
The trouble is, if you are not careful, you can find that all things become "acts of God" or ways in which he is speaking to you. The snow was not God saying that I should not go to the event, it was just bad weather! Over spiritualising can become a way of viewing life that is exhausting and slightly inauthentic. We need to recognise God's hand, but we also need to see when something is just snow.
Let's get the highlighter out now
If it is wrong to over spiritualise, the question is, when is it right to acknowledge the spiritual?
Recognising God is not an exact science with a black and white answer. God is not binary – i.e. he does not think "I am acting in your life" or "I am doing stuff" versus "I am not." God's heart is always in pursuit of ours. He is always acting and always proactively engaging our spirits – both in rest and in complexity. The Bible constantly points at this two way communication between God and his people. One of my favourites is Isaiah chapter 1, verse 18, where it says, "Come, let us settle the matter."
Let me tell you about a time when I did immediately reach for the spiritual tape and marker pen. I applied for an internal role at my company and it was the day before the interview. I had a number of set tasks for each day and I had done them well and without issue for the past year. The day before the interview was different. Normally simple jobs became difficult. I made mistakes in easy tasks. It culminated in me doing a simple adding job – and I got the total wrong.
I have a degree and job experience, and yet, on that day and in that moment I could not even use a calculator! A natural response for me would have been to call myself an idiot and incapable – brilliant, confidence-boosting phrases before interview day, no? Satan was there to taunt me, no mistake about that, and he thought he was going to have an easy ride and get victory over my thought life. On that day and in that moment I fought back.
I told my mind it was sound and it belonged to the Lord. I told myself I was having a long day. I forgave myself for making an error because I am human. And I let myself be peaceful. When I permissioned peace to myself God spoke to me so clearly and said, "THAT was spiritual. You saw clearly there was a battle to win, and you fought and won ground."
I think there is and are REAL battles to be fought. As Joyce Meyer so rightly indicates in her many books, it is a mental war we are waging. In these times, calling things spiritual is not overstated. It is our Christian reality. We live and breathe from the result of a supernatural God giving life to us. Everything in our lives is mapped and considered by the King of Kings. We use our minds every day to enable us to walk across the road, to buy food and to engage in conversation. Background tasks go on in your mind that you do not even know about. Amazing, no?
When we use our minds to focus on God we are engaging with that Adamic heritage of "walking with God in the Garden." Our minds are precious, complex and worth protecting. They are also worth preserving for what matters. Let's not sweat the small stuff. If it snows, it snows. Do not worry about the white stuff. Focus your attention on the right stuff.
Rosie Robinson resides in Manchester where, in between feeding herself coffee and bagels she works for an international financial services organisation. She attends a lively church called Audacious, enjoys reading, running and watching films and am currently on a trek with Jesus; discovering slowly but surely, all that life has to offer. She also has the coolest big sister on the plane (fellow young writer Amanda living in New Zealand)!
Rosie Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosie-robinson.html