Knowing What We Don’t Know (How to Know part 6)

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26, emphasis mine)

I find that whenever God does something in my life, the memory of the event stands out like an open flame in the distance on a dark night. Like it’s ingrained forever on the slate of my mind. As an aside, who knows what corresponds neurologically with those memories (because sometimes I’m loathe to resort to physiological reasons only for the inherent weirdness of life)? It doesn’t take long, when dwelling on God’s goodness in our lives, to return to the state in which we found ourselves at the time. No matter how far out you get in your life from the way things were when you touched God and He touched you, only dwell on the beauty that God gave you in the past and it will flow into your now. It’s the (super)natural order of things. How much time and energy we are willing to invest in dredging these things up (for lack of a better term) will tell in how much we want God to change any less-than-pleasant, present circumstances, should need be.

Déjà Vu

From the French and literally meaning “already seen”. I’m sure there’s a good reason why it happens. And when it does happen, while I’m generally more interested in ferreting out a substantive memory to fill that void, I always emerge from its moment with a sense of rational peace knowing that “I’ve been through this before”. Were I to ever find in my memory the actual instance to which the déjà vu corresponded, would that prove the reality of the feeling? Because if God’s real, who’s to say the feeling wasn’t? But… Oh my. It’s already gone.

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Proverbs 16:3, emphasis mine)

Presque Vu

That one means “almost seen”. The tip of your tongue. There’s a name for that one, too. I find it amusing that there would be a name for that which we’re unable to name. That just-the-right-word for the context but you forgot. That person’s name. What was it again? The thing you were gonna say before you got derailed or sidelined. Presque vu. I believe the Holy Spirit keeps everything that bubbles up from our heart and mind and sometimes, if I don’t remember what I need to say, I just lay back and rest in that knowledge, that feeling of knowing. He won’t let you forget if it’s something that really needs to be said. Trust.

“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:1)

Jamais Vu

If you want to experience this, (it’s like the opposite of déjà vu) take a word, any word that you can think of—the shorter the better—and just start writing it over and over until it just becomes a sequence of black marks (or blue, whatever color ink or graphite or lead) on a page. That feeling? When your mind strays into seeing that word as something foreign and unfamiliar, is called jamais vu. It’s not recognizing the familiar for what you know it is. And it’s just as weird as the other two.

There’s a name for it, you know. They’re called feelings of knowing and while everyone has them and experiences them at one time or another, I think the level to which we trust them necessarily corresponds with the love we have for ourselves—and God, ultimately. The mind is an amazing thing but it’s not who we are. Who we are, as weird and semantically off as this might sound, is: loved by God. That’s it. We will never get over and beyond that definition. We are loved. It doesn’t matter how much you attain in this world, the station which you leave behind, or the structure in your mind. If you don’t realize this primal fact, you’ll always be on the outside of life looking in.

“…whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8b-10)

“When the solution is simple, God is answering.” Albert Einstein

Funeral Order

Putting the fun in funeral

Paul, in his letter to the Christians at Colosse says this: “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” (Colossians 1:8-9)

How do you view the will of God? Is it something that transcends everything that we, in our vain attempts at control, seek to enact? Maybe it’s something that mysteriously weaves Its way in and around and among those with whom we interact? Do we consider it at all? And if it’s something that will happen whether we want it or not, what’s the secret for getting in the center of His will for our life? How do we make God’s will our will?

“Wherefore life up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:12-13)

The above passage shows that God is moving—whether we like it or not. Look again at Paul’s statement to the Colossians. “For this cause…” What cause? What would fill Paul with such enthusiasm so as to pray that they know God’s will “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”?

In short, Love.

One of Paul’s compatriots had evidently come from Colosse to Paul with a glowing report: “[Epaphras] also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:7) The reality here is, without love, knowing God’s will becomes something that we merely observe happening around us—if we’re even that perceptive—rather than something in which we partake and participate. Love. Love for God and love for others.

Many things can be boiled down to exact science. Quantified and tallied and streamlined. This is the way of mass-production, of assembly lines and binary code. When we seek to wrap around the will of God, a lifeless and loveless regime, and omit the living Holy Spirit from having His way, then it’s the numbers that will affect our joy in the Lord. Paul says that Epaphras “declared…your love in the Spirit.” There is no mistaking the love and presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It’s the one commodity that cannot be traded or bought and sold. Heck, it’s not a commodity, He’s the very atmosphere of Heaven who now pervades earth because of Jesus’ death. And even Jesus had to struggle with enacting His will above His Father’s:

“And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42, emphasis mine)

As such, there must be a death to our own will before seeing God’s in our life. This is abhorrent to the human animal, and also one of the things that separates us from the animals. To see and feel the desire to do that thing we think will make us happy—and then choose otherwise. To deliberately choose that thing, whatever it may be, in a situation, that the Holy Spirit intimates to us. To love God and love others more than we love ourselves. This is the essence of the Christ-like life.

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” (1 John 3:14)

Recrudescence (Re:Noun part 2)

“Blessed and holy is he (and she) that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, satan shall be loosed out of his prison.” (Revelation 20:6-7, emphasis mine)

Without waxing eschatological, I’d like to take a look at just what happens when we encounter things that crop up either when we least expect them or after we thought we’d dealt the death-blow to that recurring habit or hangup. And with reference to the passage from Revelation, who knows why the devil is going to be let loose? I think it has something to do with an active opposition to our free will and God allowing those on the earth to encounter struggle and hardship so as to overcome by His power. Much like what happens today, I might add. And it wasn’t until relatively recently that I began to see the epic battle scenes of Revelation as something that, I would say, most of humanity is not going to be privy to viewing while they’re taking place. Oh, they’ll feel the effects sure, but to view something like that would be mind blowing and more-than-creepy. I digress:

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity (that’s what satan means, by the way: “adversary”–in Hebrew) consider: God hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after Him.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)

One question before we begin. How many of us (myself included) really take the time to enjoy those “times of refreshing” while we are experiencing them? Food for thought. This isn’t to say that God’s the one who causes evil things and temptation to happen—He allows them. And to a great degree, allows what we allow.

“I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt Thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” (Psalm 101:2-3a)

This isn’t a call to an irrational prudery or a self-righteousness that denies the power of God at work when we experience the tempation to sin. It’s about guarding the influences both spiritual and natural that would seek to take our attention away from God. I feel that most people would read the above passage and relate it only to issues of lust. And, there, it certainly applies. But what about other things of garden-variety coveting? Whatever it is that we choose to look at and consider and observe–from new patio furniture to that extra piece of pie to another person to any thought, however innocent-seeming–that seeks to divert our attention from God will indeed do that very thing down the road. This is why we take our thoughts to Him.

I believe that sin happens with reference to God first. The moment we got out of touch with Him, whether we felt it or not (when we don’t feel it, is that a sort-of mercy–or blindness?), is when we got on the track that leads us down to where we end in falling down and needing forgiveness.

“for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

“Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)

Recrudescence is a medical term that refers to a condition or disease that breaks out anew after a period of dormancy or remission. Paul asked through his desperation: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24) He encountered the same thing as do we all: the recurring temptation to sin in whichever way is unique to us. The good news is that our spirit has been recreated by the Holy Spirit upon believing in Jesus. This is part and parcel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You are not who you once were. Your spirit is now made of the same stuff as is Jesus’–mind blowing. One of the simplest and subtlest ways in which the devil seeks to derail us from a path of holy living, is to get us into unforgiveness. I would have to say that a lot of what we encounter that conspires to get us to “lose control”, so to speak, is in order to get us into unforgiveness. The “crude” part of the word is the same, etymologically, as raw–bloody. Asepsis is when the blood is made pure of a poison that was infecting it. When we forgive, be it ourselves or others, it’s like the exhalation of all the bad stuff that we don’t need. And all of that is made possible by blood that Jesus shed for us on Calvary. All our sin is already forgiven.

Here’s the thing. While the easy answer of “just don’t sin” doesn’t really apply across-the-board with many people who struggle with recurring habits (best to not even say it), the solution for each of us is within reach. It starts with Jesus and ends with Him too. Find it for yourself and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (and daughters) of God.” (Romans 8:13, 14) You can do it.

 

Shared Vision

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Find someone, anyone. Actually, it’s something God has to find for you. It is of utmost importance that we surround ourselves with people who are going to build us up and help us in our walk. Even as we in turn help them. Our load is made lighter by friends who are willing to tell us what they think, to pray for us and to show us our blind spots. True depth perception requires both eyes, after all, and only God sees everything.

As an aside, “One-Eyed” Odin, of Norse myth had two ravens—Huginn and Muninn—who, by day, flew to and fro throughout the world only to return to Valhalla at night and perch on his shoulder as he sat down to dinner. They informed him of the day’s events, literally acting as his eyes and ears. Perhaps they’re the ravens spoken of in Proverbs? (30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out.”

There are things that God wants to do in your life that require the help of like-minded individuals. Really, the more the better, but one is all it takes to shake things up. Have you ever felt that? You go somewhere, anywhere with your best friend and you know you have a compatriot in the world at large. Even when you’re apart, you feel it. A close friend is invaluable. Do whatever you need to ensure that the friendship stays afloat.

“Shared joy is double joy. Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” Swedish proverb

It’s true. The keenness of insight that God gives your friend will transform your sorrows into joys and expand on the enjoyment of life. Make sure you pray for them and treat them the same.

A true friend will reflect back to you who you really are. I think we know this subconciously but it deserves to be brought to the surface. I’d wager to say that it’s one of the main reasons that we enjoy their presence so much. Sure we love them, we love them with all of our heart—the part that’s reserved for “friend”, if that makes sense. But as we are always on the inside looking out, that insight, that “shared vision”, that perspective is crucial for our comportment in the world—and rare, I might add. Ask God to send you a friend. And until He does, revel in the friendship and companionship of Jesus. He is that “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

“Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12, emphasis mine)

When Jesus is at the center of your friendship, then it can flourish as it was intended. And as one grows in life, He’ll be the one to provide everything that the true friend, awesome though they may be, might be unable to give. Because as close as you might become with the person that God has introduced to you, you’ll never outgrow the need for the companionship of the Lord. It’s the natural order of things. And don’t be sad or rankled when your friend doesn’t understand you—because it’s bound to happen at some time or another, they’re growing with you. Even if there comes a time where you need to part ways, guess what? You still have God—so do they. All the more reason to look forward to Heaven. It’s a place where we can explore and play outside forever…

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:15)

God bless you guys.