Experiencing the Spiritual

It seems to be a well-understood fact among mature folk that drama is something that typically only surrounds dramatic people. Think about it. You probably can name a few people who have a mellow and untheatrical temperament, people who more often than not go unaffected by the very things that trigger the dramatic types. And you probably also know individuals who are naturally very dramatic who always seem to be bogged down with what so-and-so said about such-and-such. It’s not a coincidence, it’s causal. Whether knowingly or not, people who are always bombarded with drama are the ones who entertain and, to some degree, desire it. On the other hand, those who don’t give foolish issues an after thought rarely suffer their dramatic effects. For every person, the ability to live a dramatic life is for him or her to decide. I get the image of someone walking on a distressed road with crumbles of asphalt jutting up in all sorts of angles. He continually complains about how messed up the road is yet fails to recognize a new, smooth road right beside the bad one. The power to walk onto the easy path – the better path – is locked up only in his mind. In a word, the world is about as dramatic as you make it out to be.

I bring up all this about drama because I find it very similar to having a spiritual outlook on life. A couple of years ago I was sitting by a campfire with some friends as we were talking about missionaries and serving the Lord over seas. I’ll never forget when one peer told me something to the extent of, “Michael, you don’t understand. Spiritual warfare out there is real. It’s not like here in the U.S.” She was clearly leveraging the fact that I haven’t been to Africa, where she had recently returned from a mission trip. I remember thinking to myself, “What? Spiritual warfare isn’t happening here!? How else could one explain our nation’s backsliding? All of the hopelessness and hurt people are going through on a daily basis? Or all the hallow and unsatisfying promises being peddled to us via culture?” I don’t think she was denying that things in the U.S. aren’t so peachy keen but rather that they do not stem from spiritual causes as do issues elsewhere. She was sharing sentiment that is echoed by countless others: that the spiritual experience here and now is not as “real” as it is there and then.

I too for a long time thought like this. I find that a good deal of Christians similarly don’t consider common life to be very spiritual. Certainly not in any exciting sense. And who can blame them? The great stories of revivals, healings, and miracles usually come out from the third-world. But perhaps it is the way “spiritual people” view life that is the key, not their geographical location. Perhaps the everyday experience of spiritual reality is just a different form than what is witnessed in the third-world but is no less spiritual. If that is the case, then a simple change in perspective can make all the difference.

Just like drama is never in short supply for so called “drama queens,” spiritual boredom is abundant for those who expect it. For spiritual people, life is spiritual. It’s all a matter of outlook. Undramatic people can go a whole lifetime and have minimal engagements with pointless drama. Likewise, people who are not spiritually-minded may go their entire lives having minimal encounters with the excitement of the spiritual. Dr. Christine Sine said, “Since our lives are increasingly disconnected from the rhythms of God’s world, we do not hear the underlying whisper of God’s heartbeat that is meant to sustain us…” As she points out, it is when we disconnect ourselves from God that we see less of the miraculous. When we are plugged into Him, taking life seriously and spiritually, we can begin to see life as it really is.

A professor of mine once shared this thought in class one day. He explained how easy it is for many a Christian to think that God is doing something else, somewhere else, with someone else. They cannot imagine He is doing a miraculous work today, right here, with them personally. Yet that is precisely what is occurring. Right under our very noses God is working. Just like Elisha prayed that the young man would see the spiritual armies around him (See II Kings 6:8-23), we must pray that God would begin to show us the spiritual life around us.

Things are happening all the time – exciting things. Our God is active and He enjoys involving us in His magnificent story. It is a sad sight when believers tell themselves that the role they play in the Great Story is insignificant or, worse, that they don’t really have a role. It takes an active effort to commit to living life as if it were spiritual to prevent this. When that change of mind is embraced, a peculiar thing happens. Life begins to become more spiritual. But really, we know it was spiritual all along, we merely grow in our ability to see things as they really are.

This does not happen over night. By looking and expecting to see God move in the everyday, it becomes easier to find Him there as time goes on. When the lights are turned on in a dark place it may take a while for the one’s eyes to adjust. It is not always an immediate shift. Spiritual eyesight requires no less patience.

Further, one must not think this means one can necessarily expect what God will do. Often times, God does things in strange and unexpected ways. We may think a spiritual world should produce “X” and yet God may be up to something else entirely. In that sense, God’s work often acts like little surprises speckled all throughout life, things we could not possibly have predicted. That is why it is of monumental importance for Christians to view life spiritually. Without a proper spiritual outlook we could not possibly make sense of everything life throws at us. We need to see things spiritually in order to make sense of our world. Fortunately, that is up to only us to decide.

The journey of life is deeply spiritual and it is waiting for you. You need not look to some foreign land, for a special sign, or for some certain time to pass before you can experience it. And you dare not think that you are unfit for such a life. The world is a spiritual one. God made it that way. He invites you to look upon it as He created it – a dynamic world filled with wonder, excitement, mystery, villains, trials, and triumphs. It is layered over and again with realms physical, spiritual, mental, emotional. To experience that kind of life one must lay down his naturalistic spectacles and see things with unveiled eyes. It only takes personal commitment in faith to see it as such. And you will certainly find that once you have committed to seeing life more spiritually, everything will change. The mundane will grow bold, the fog will burst with color, the upsets will have meaning, and everything ordinary will turn fiercely extraordinary. In that sense, living the spiritual life is very much like living in a fairytale, and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

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