Monday, July 24, 2006

"Put the fan by the door"

It was hot again yesterday. I took a box fan into my bedroom as it was getting close to bedtime. I was going to put it on the dresser by the window, where I always put it, but was momentarily inhibited by all the things that had accumulated in the space for the fan since the last time I used it. Then the voice of the constant companion in my consciousness said, “David, put the fan by the door.” “Oh yeah! There is an outlet there, isn’t there?” There was a nice place at bed height to set the fan, too. It was much better than my plan. How did God know?

Any atheist I know would say this was just me. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I knew this solution, and it just comes to me through this imaginary God my mind has developed to process help for the more incompetent part of me. Right, the thing about that is I didn’t have the slightest glimmer of a clue in my consciousness that there was an outlet there. I recognized it when I saw it, but it may have been years since I plugged anything in there. I had every intention of just taking a minute to clear off where I previously had the fan. It was not a big deal. I admit in retrospect I had the very slightest discouragement that I couldn’t just put the fan down, but it was so slight I wasn’t thinking about it. I also had no visual clues that there was an alternative. My back was toward the place the Spirit knew was a better solution. I didn’t know. If my mind can do this without God, it’s just as significant as if God can do this, as a phenomenon that really is worth paying attention to and following. But the truth is I have no way of explaining this naturally.

When all of that dawned on me, I asked God how She did that. She said She could see the fan winding up there in the future. Why waste time? Besides it would make a good story to supplement these things She’s been wanting me to write about how one can indeed be led by the Spirit.

You know, She’s right again. It would make a good story. I wonder when I’m going to write it. Oh yeah, right now!

I forget if I shared this here before, but the first time I went to a charismatic church, in 1992, there was a time of praise reports. Now in the liberal churches of my youth, praise reports were thanking God for recovery from a serious illness, for a new job, something of substance like that. In this charismatic church, the praise reports were for God helping someone find her glasses, his car keys and get through a dental visit without incident. Huh? What does this great and glorious God of the universe have to do with such trivia? Well now I know. God loves me. He and She show it in countless ways everyday. I have learned to hear God and trust God regarding things just as trivial as when I first learned about living with the Spirit. It’s not an effort for God to be helpful. It’s certainly not a wasted effort for God to help us with trivial things. He’s not going to end poverty without us anyway. So how do we learn to trust God? We learn by many experiences that are much easier than upsetting one’s whole life to do something heroic. There may be no conscious awareness of God’s help early on, but as one draws closer to God, communication with God can become just as easy as I’ve described it here, just as easy as it’s described in the Bible. I’m sure the Bible is wrong about some things, but not everything.

Now there are plenty of Bible-believing Christians who report experiences like this, and I think their beliefs and their behavior are all wrong. Their behavior may be Christian in terms of being polite, but they do nothing to help the needy. They fan the flames of political and religious conflict. What goes on here? God says that they aren’t hearing Him well, but He loves them enough to help them where He can be heard. It is a limited experience of God that men like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have, but it’s more than nothing. God tells me there’s no way a large section of humanity will ever be in that constant contact with Him that some have. He wouldn’t be able to stand the way we treat each other. It takes so long to learn to do things God’s way, even though when one does, when one has died to the flesh and lives in the spirit, when one has given up one’s own inner 2 year-old who says no to everything, it is so much easier than living the natural way to live.

So why does He put up with the mess that the world is today? There’s no other way. The end justifies the means.

But within those means, there is love, for those who want it, for those willing to trust. The charismatic way is not for everyone. It may sound like I’m saying that it is when I say how wonderful some aspect of it is. I’m not saying that. I’m glad loveapple asked the questions he did in response to what I wrote about “God says so”. No one can say there’s only one possibility for God. I only say that there is indeed this possibility that rationally minded Christians shy away from. Hey, I can be very good at being rational. It’s just not the whole story.

Being charismatic has its advantages. That fan worked really well last night. This story could be better, but words are so limited, and it’s not enough to make a movie about, which I know nothing of how to do anyway. The Spirit is a powerful muse, but it takes more than that to convince anyone to live his or her life to end poverty, to live to end conflict. If God could do that easily, it would be done by now. It’s about much more than words or beliefs.

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