Friday, August 9, 2013

That Secret Place

God enters by a private door into each individual. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Revelation 3:20 (KJV)  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Matthew 7:7 (KJV)  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

Most of us are familiar with the verse in Revelation.  It’s used a lot for evangelism.  But, when we add Matthew 7:7 and the Emerson quote, we get a very interesting picture.  And lately, I’m wondering more and more whether that picture is of what is or of what ought to be.

Bear with me, here.  I’m going to paint a unique word picture.  And you’ll see what I’m talking about.  When I think of Emerson’s quote, I see the beginning of a process that can, but may not, include salvation.  That first door is the one God enters to gain our attention so we recognize His presence.  And, because we’re individuals, where and how God does that is very personal to each of us.  While it might have taken the sledge hammer approach for me, someone else may have been gently drawn.

The passage in Revelation 3 actually indicates a form of repentance.  But it points to the reality that, if we seek God, He’ll fellowship with us.  In context, Matthew 7:7 shows us a further step in our relationship.  We started with God finding a personal entrance into our meager attention span, developing that contact into our being one with Him, and Him taking up residence in us, in a very secret place.  When we focus on God, He opens the door to that secret place, giving us a chance to have a special experience with Him.  And that’s where I wonder whether this whole concept is reality or how things ought to be.

Back when I was on my own personal spiritual trek, leaving the Trinity out of my journey, I was a big science fiction fan.  There was a lot of it that had spiritual content.  If you’re familiar with “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein, Michael (the main character) was a literary type for Christ.  But a number of different stories and books dealt with the concept of there being an alternate reality, different from what we live in.  It’s that thought that recently struck me.  Think of the following verses.

John 15:11 (KJV)  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
John 14:27 (KJV)  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Focused on God, we gain His joy and His peace.  God’s grace is enough to carry us through anything and still experience His joy and peace.  In contrast, just yesterday, someone shared a graphic online that basically said most people we meet, online or otherwise, befriend us for selfish reasons, for ulterior motives.  That may happen.  But, as Christians, is that what we’re supposed to focus on?  And people were telling the original poster that the “wisdom” was a blessing.

There’s another person whose main mode of communication seems to be negative finger pointing, complaining about all the things that are wrong.  And there are people telling them that they have great Christian spiritual wisdom.  And both of these situations take me back to my days of science fiction, because they make me wonder what alternate reality would spawn the kind of thinking that we can have a real relationship with Christ without experiencing His joy, His peace, His grace.

That kind of thinking has its roots in our own flesh, in me instead of in God.  If we care about others and are rebuffed, focus on God and His thoughts deaden the hurt.  If we focus on us, there can only be pain.  If we focus on God, we can forgive the errors we and others make.  If we focus on ourselves, we will only see the wrongs and experience only the hurt they cause.

So, how do we get to actual reality?  The reality of what God has given us?  We need to take our relationship with God beyond intellectual acknowledgement.  When we open our Bible, we need to skip trying to learn about Him and actually meet Him in the pages.  When we pray, we need to stop talking at Him and begin conversing with Him.  We need to pay attention to His responses instead of ignoring anything that doesn’t fit our predetermined ideas of what we expect His answers to be.

So, while I battle to keep myself out of that spiritual alternative reality, I can certainly pray for those who are stuck in it, some by choice, some by lack of understanding.  Even if I can’t be sure that I will like the people and situations God allows to come my way, I can be certain that they’re for my growth and benefit.  And that I can still latch onto His grace and mercy, which will let me experience His joy and peace, no matter what.  I’ll just wade right through because He has me walking on that troubled water, while others are drowning in the misery of focusing on their own opinions instead of understanding God’s thoughts.  It’s not “I think….”, it’s “God said….”.  How are you meeting God in that secret place, today?

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