Friday, May 21, 2010

Antennae and Sandpaper

Did you know that we all have spiritual antennas? We do. Every one of us. It's how we "hear" from God. It's those times when you're driving down the road and suddenly feel impressed to pray for someone. Right out of the blue, no advance warning. Or those times when you hear a song - perhaps a worship song - you've never heard before and all of a sudden you know again that God is alive and well and active in the world and in that moment it is as if it is just you and God on the planet and the two of you are along together in that space.

We are all born with the ability and capacity to connect with God. It is hardwired right into the fabric of each of us. That's the good news.

The bad news, however, is that over time our antennae, our spiritual receptors, can be dulled and can begin to lose their sensitivity. Lots of things can cause this dulling of our receptors; chronic pain, shame, anger, a hard heart, disobedience, sin, and the list goes on. It's as if these things are like coats of paint and over time our antennas have so many coats of paint applied that they begin to lose their receptivity. Think of Saul and David for a moment. As we read both of their stories found in scripture, we see that Saul slowly lost his ability - over time - to discern spiritual matters. This occurred to such a degree that he eventually sought out a medium to help him contact Samuel who had already died. On the other hand, David continued to grow and develop his ability to connect with and hear from God. Another way of saying this is that David's ability to "see with the eyes of his heart" continued to develop while Saul's ability diminished over time.

God knows that this numbing and dulling of our spiritual receptors happens to us over time and He is not surprised at all by this dynamic. As a result, every now and then (usually when we least expect it), God in his great kindness to us and out of his fierce devotion to ensuring that we continue to be able to hear from Him, initiates a season of shaping and transformation into our lives. Each season is different for every person, but in almost every case this season of shaping (see James 1) is characterized by struggle, pain, suffering, crisis, confusion, etc. We might call this time a season of disorientation. If you've ever had a season like this, you know from experience that nothing gets our attention like pain and suffering. Let me say that again.

Nothing gets our attention - nothing - like pain and suffering.

But, the good news is that God uses these times (regardless of how they came about...from God, from Satan, from our boneheaded choices, by accident, etc.) to help re-sensitize our ability to hear from and connect with Him. It is as if God uses these times to take a sheet of brand new sandpaper to us in order to violently rub away the old coats of paint that have dulled our spiritual sensitivity. This has been true throughout history: Moses, David, Paul, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, St. Patrick, Watchman Nee, Brother Yun (and the list goes on...) all had a season (if not multiple seasons) where God used the struggles they were enduring to further develop and re-sensitize their spiritual antennae in order to forge a deeper level of connection and intimacy with them.

Having said all of that, other than pain and suffering, I know of no other way that God typically uses to sharpen our ability to "see with the eyes of our heart" than the historically-practiced spiritual disciplines such as fasting, or silence, or retreat, etc. The spiritual disciplines have survived in part because over time they have proven to be rituals that help to facilitate transformation and connection with God and with what is really going on inside of us.

SASHET - the first of the two disciplines that comprise C02 has this same quality. When it is done right, it has the potential to be like the metaphorical sandpaper that God uses to re-sensitize our spiritual antenna. When we show up to our C02 and we bring our whole hearts and we speak honestly and we connect in a deep way with the heart of another, we are, little by little, scraping off more of that old paint. We are cultivating our ability to connect with Gods heart.

Don't believe me? Go back and re-listen to my 2-part conversation with Tim Morris from a couple of posts ago on the blog. What you will hear is the story of a man who has had his heart healed greatly and his spiritual antennae recharged and re-sensitized by practicing C02.

1 comment:

  1. It might be important to understand that since God is the answer, it isn't necessary to make him also the problem. The only hope we have in a fallen world, full of enemies of God, is hearing God and following Him. When we are dull of hearing, we are not receiving the word of God which is really all that is necessary to make us complete and mature.

    He doesn't really have to orchestrate your pain, but you can be assured that he will be the answer to it! This is why you practise CO2... to hear God!