Saturday, January 30, 2010

Intellectual, or Childlike?

The other day Mary Ann and I are out enjoying a little sun, sitting on our deck having a cup of coffee and visiting together. Mary Ann sets up the easel for Abigail to paint while we are having our cup. She puts a smock on her, lays out the paints, and lets Abigail go to town. A short while later we are admiring her picture and she matter of factly tells us it is of flames of fire swooping down to lift her up to heaven!

Wow! It is so awesome to hear kids talk about, and see them draw or paint, things of the Spirit and of the Kingdom of God. What is so natural to them in their simple faith and acceptance of the things of God is so beautiful. They haven’t been “taught” that God doesn’t do miracles, or send His Spirit on tongues of fire, or heal people, or talk to us. Instead, they have dreams from God, they see angels, they hear God’s voice, they pray with expectancy, and they believe His deeds. It is pure, innocent, trusting—and it is huge—it is the faith of a child and I can’t wait until I “undo” all the teaching I’ve heard about everything He doesn’t do anymore, and live in the Biblical expectancy of all the great things He does and will do!

Throughout the Bible “Heaven” interjects itself in to earth for those who will see it. Jacob’s vision of the ladder from heaven, Joseph’s dreams, Daniel’s interpretations of dreams and his visions and his encounter with an angel, the horses and chariots of fire that surrounded Elisha and his servant, the angel encounters, the coming of Jesus, the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter’s vision, John’s revelation . . . I could fill page upon page of “invasions” of our earth from heaven and spiritual beings. The veil between our physical earth and the working of the spiritual realm is very thin, and I wonder what would happen if we spent more time looking for, and expecting, that veil to tear and the spiritual to break in to the physical.

Our God is huge and awesome and mighty, and He so loves us and desires interactive relationship and communication with us that He sent His own Son to die to purchase us back from the devil himself. It makes sense that He would then be active in our life, and that the spiritual realm would frequently interact with ours. I wonder what we miss—or what we dismiss—simply because we aren’t looking or listening for it, or expecting it. In many countries and cultures the supernatural is “normal” and accepted, but in our intellectual culture where science is “god”, we have, I believe, relegated much of what the Bible says our life should look like to, at best, intellectual acknowledgment only, or, at worst, total rejection. It is no wonder to me that the Holy Spirit stays back when we fear His coming, or tell Him what He can and can’t do in our services, or restrict His movement to a “Believer’s Night,” or even mock or disbelieve His actions all together.

I know that we need to be wise as serpents, and to be discerning, and to be on our guard—but I also know that Mark 16:14 tells me: Afterward He [Jesus] appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after He had risen. Is it possible that our hearts are hardened and our unbelief stronger than we would care to admit, or that we are more comfortable with religious ritual than we are with God actually “showing up”?

I wonder if there is a lesson in expectancy for us in Acts 12 which says: (1–3) About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also . . . (5) So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. (7–8) And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.

Verses 8–11 recount the angel leading him out to freedom and his recognition of what the angel had done. It then continues: (12–16) When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary . . . where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.

There they were, praying away for Peter’s freedom—but when they were told he was actually free, they didn’t believe it and tried to explain it away as something else. I wonder what that says about their true expectancy in prayer. I wonder what expectancy there is in my prayer . . . maybe I need to become that child that paints things of the Spirit and earth interacting, and who believes in Daddy and His goodness and His capability with all of his heart . . . I wonder—would God rebuke me for believing in Him too much?

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