The Whole Deal
The devotion I read this morning, written by D. S. Dharmapalan, contained the following sentence:
That sentence stopped me. I even wrote it down. Do you agree with it? I don’t believe that I do.
We often compare our experiences in the presence of God as trips to a mountaintop. For a moment, let’s use that metaphor to think about the sentence in question.
We begin in the valley, hoping to get closer to God. Maybe down here in the valley, we’re not even sure that God exists, and if he does, how we would approach him or what he would be like. In the valley, we might look at a miracle in the Bible and try to explain it away – Lazarus wasn’t really dead – when Jesus came by, Lazarus coincidentally awoke from a coma. Logic at work, but logic without faith.
The journey up the mountain begins with faith. Notice that the Bible never tries to prove the existence of God – that’s faith. Faith is the acceptance that God exists – that God is God, that he created us and that he wants to be in relationship with us. If you’ll pardon the mixing of metaphors, maybe that is the elevator that takes us up the mountain.
Once we’re on the mountaintop, the emotions are wonderful – joy and thrill at being in the presence of God. The spirituality of that can take our faith and embed it into our bones, making theophany permanent. It’s the mountaintop. It’s where we want to be; it’s where we want to stay.
But it’s not the destination. Wait! Don't head down the mountain yet -- God has more in mind.
I can just see, in my mind’s eye, God standing there on the top of the mountain, rubbing his hands together, saying, “Great! You’re here. Now let’s play!” We are made in the image of God, and that doesn’t mean that only our emotions are divinely created – so is our logic and our creativity. Pull out your whole bag of tricks, and dance.
Logic – What are your questions? What would you like to know? I wonder if any of the disciples said “No” to Jesus when first asked? How did he convince them? Did the rich man ever get (or take) a second chance at being close to God? What happened when the woman who Jesus saved from stoning got home? Maybe you’re not on the mountaintop alone – look around. Do you see friends? Engage in that means of grace called Christian conversation, and explore. Don’t leave one of the best tools God gave you in the valley. Dance!
Creativity – This is one of the characteristics that we share with God. I can’t blow on dust and make life, but I can certainly take crayons and paper, draw a rainbow, and tell a child how God will keep his promises. Can you see the sunset on the mountain? What does it tell you about God? Need to teach a class a difficult to master theological concept? Spend some time on the mountain with God and your creativity – and watch the sparks fly.
Think about it for a minute. The emotional response is a gift to us, what God does next is to equip us to be a gift to others.
God made us whole – he gave us emotions, but he also gave us logic and creativity. He wouldn’t require us to lay part of what he gave us aside in order to be in his presence. I think it takes everything – faith, emotions, logic, creativity, (and that’s only the beginning of a list) to fully experience God.
Faith gets us up the mountain, an emotional, spiritual response is a breathtaking, God-given gift, and then we find out that God is only getting started. Then we find out that it is time to FLY.
Image: I took the picture last night after a meeting at church. It's the sky across the street from our house. See the bird? I didn't see the bird until I looked at the picture on the computer -- what a great surprise. I knew I would use it today -- whatever the post I wrote. It wasn't until this moment, after coding the image, uploading the text, and writing this little paragraph, that I realized the bird was FLYING.