You know what I mean. One of those days that doesn’t sink totally to the level of “disaster”, but where everything just feels “off”?
Imagine a dark cloud drifting overhead, casting shadows on your mood and heart. Sounds seem muted, colors seem drab, people seem unfriendly or indifferent, music seems off-key… Even prayer, even prayer just seems to float randomly into the ozone, as if drifting off to some divine “Inbox”, to be dealt with when God gets around to it.
Do you ever have such a day? Oh, not that we would ever clearly THINK such a thought… that would be “irreverent”. We have “faith”, we know what we know, we love God… always have, always will… but in that precise moment, there is no sense of the “experience”. The “feelings” of reverence, faith, devotion, piety, love… all that, is simply not there.
So the day drudges on, second by second, as we find ourselves “clock watching”, just waiting for it to end and move on to tomorrow, trying to take care not to offend anyone else with this debilitating moment of “blue funk”?
Been there? (Happens to me from time to time. Not often, but sometimes.)
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OK, here’s a gift from me to you…
If you’re willing, try this as an experiment next time that happens…
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First off, I’m going to make an assumption… Since you are here reading The Postmodern Mystic in the first place (you’re patiently inflicting this on yourself), then it is your heart’s desire to draw as close as you possibly can to the heart of God. You passionately care about experiencing what I’m coming to call “skin to skin contact” with Holy God. That’s an amazing thought. That’s an incredible ambition. That would be a shocking (maybe horrifying) thing to articulate… I mean… “Me? Plain, little, sinful… ME??? And… and GOD?? Great… Big… Holy… GOD? Who do I think I AM?”
But wait a moment. Think about this… THIS, this intimate, immediate, right here right now relationship… is what GOD HIMSELF WANTS! This is the most clear and obvious biblical revelation of God’s heart from Genesis through Revelation!
Once I saw this simple fact… that God Himself has, from the beginning of time through its end, done EVERYTHING in His power to clear the way for us, as His beloved children, to have this immediate and unfiltered experience of Him, His presence, His love… once this idea struck me, then all of the Old Testament, Gospels, Epistles, Revelation… ALL of it, just screamed this same story, this same revelation, again and again.
God’s greatest heartbreak? That the immediate presence of “sin” (which we carry with us like a stain through the Fall and our frailty), brings forth “death” in from His Person (like lightning attracted to a dynamo). It’s not what He “wants” as much as it is just inherent in the “nature” of things.
God’s solution? Though Jesus, Son of God AND sinless Son of Man, to pave the way to place the Holy Spirit, God Himself, WITHIN us… “equalizing the holiness quotient”… or (in electrical terms) eliminating the “potential difference”. There is no more “spark of death” in the presence of Holy God, because God (through the Redemption, Resurrection, Pentecost) has accomplished a means to place the fullness of Holy God Himself INSIDE of us.
[I’m so sorry, Gentle Reader. That may not have made sense. It’s just such a crucial truth in my life (and to this post), and actually quite simple. But it’s unspeakably difficult for me to wrap words around, so if that didn’t make sense, just forgive my verbal inadequacies and go on.]
Anyway, the point is simply this…
We, as human beings, are people of “will”, of “want”, and of “feel”. That is really a rather amazing distinction. Most organisms, most life on the face of the earth, are driven by feelings (sensation), that drives desire (motivating towards “good” feelings, avoiding what feels “bad”), that drives the will (decisions to take action).
Now, our being made “in the image of God” gives us this astonishing ability. We are not bound by “natural” abilities, by the abilities and processes of every other life form on earth (as far as we know). Our decisions and actions, are NOT simply dictated by either our “sensations” (feelings), or even our “desires” (likes and wants). We are SUPER-natural creatures. We actually have both the freedom and the capacity by WILL to make decisions and take actions that neither make us feel good, nor do we like.
Um… so what? What’s all this about, Little Monk?
Well, when you put these two facts together… that we (joined here on this page right now) WANT, more than anything else, that intimate relationship with God… and that we have the freedom to separate our will from our appetites or feelings… then
We have all that is necessary for an extraordinary experiment!
- One Yucky Day
- The Actual (not necessarily apparent) Presence of God
- Our Human Will
- Acknowledge that this day is decidedly “gray”. (Technical spiritual-speak for this is “desolation“, as opposed to “consolation“. Simply a “mood” ranging from mildly bleak to dismal)
- Try to pray, and realize that all one’s typical “warm, fuzzy, faith-y feelings” are absent. Find prayer dry, dull, seemingly meaningless. Try reading Scripture and watch the words just sit there mute on the page, rather than lighting up and dancing before you as normally they do! Find yourself wondering if this is all just a grand waste of time. Acknowledge and embrace this state of nearly irreverent spiritual dearth…
- Notice how much “easier” it is to “experience being Christian”, or do “spiritual exercises” (pray, read Scripture, speak of God, share with grace, love others, worship) when we are feeling good with “consolation”, than it is when we are feeling blah with desolation.
- Ask oneself… do we want to worship God, look towards Him, speak with Him, only when… (maybe because)… it makes us “feel good”? Or is the relationship deeper than that? Is the time we pay attention to Him about Him? About Our relationship? About our need for Him and His presence? Or is it about how that time makes us “feel”?
Hypotheses Being Tested:
- Whether our time attending to Him is about our relationship with Him, not about how the exercise itself makes us feel?
- Whether we can be dissuaded from experiencing our relationship with Him, if the enemy just “dulls our perceptions” of His presence and of sensible graces?
- Whether God is all the more “complimented”, and whether our “faith is all the more strengthened” when we persist despite the dryness?
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Now, I’m not going to bias the outcome by predicting your probable results, but just try this the next time you are having a “Dry” day…
- Thank Him for the gift and challenge of the “dryness”, the “grayness”.
- Remind oneself that devotion is not an “addiction” and we are not here for the “feel-good” side effects. That’s just a “cherry on top” that God is welcome to add or not, at HIS pleasure, not our demand.
- Remind oneself that the enemy is deeply interested and invested in whether he can pry your focus away from God, simply by blunting the “warm fuzzies” of that.
- Watch what happens!
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When you have the opportunity, and conduct this experiment, please feel free to drop me a comment, an email, an FB message… but let me know the results, if/when you feel so led.
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All of creation around us are “natural” beings. Sensations and needs drive their decisions and actions. We are “supernatural” beings, capable of making decisions and actions contrary to our appetites and sensibilities.
We all have a “Super Power”. Free will, that can detach us from the drives of our sensations and preferences, is a unique human ability. Let me know how things go, when you exercise your Super Power in Him!
Blessings and grace to you!
The Little Monk