Sunday, January 13, 2013

Confirmation - God Proving His Faithfulness

It’s nice when God puts resources in my path which confirm what He’s been teaching me for the last few months. That happened to me in a double way over Christmas Break.

I’ve been feeling for a long time that God is drawing me into a much deeper, much more “real” and “alive” relationship with Him. Sometimes that’s kind of scary, because it doesn’t fit what I’ve grown up with. It feels less safe because suddenly God is breaking out of the boxes I had Him so neatly packed into as a kid. But it is so very worth it – because it fulfills a deep need and longing I had for a long time in high school.

I knew there was a disconnect somewhere. I’ve written about this before. Just this evening, though, I was doing some reading for my “Capstone Seminar in Christian Life” class that I’m taking this semester (which is AMAZING!), and it finally helped make sense of the confusion I’ve felt for so long (explained in the second paragraph of the post linked above).

In a chapter of his book Invitation to a Journey, Robert Mulholland takes the Myers-Briggs test and applies it to the choices Christians make in their spiritual practices (chapter 5). You can tell he’s studied/thought about it a lot because he nails several of his points. In his next chapter, he turns to the “shadow side” of one’s personality. His point is that people can tend to start thinking that their own personality type is the “best”/”right”/”only” way to do things. As a result, we can start thinking about the opposite way of doing things as wrong and maybe even evil (pg. 55-56).

Reading through the first section, I couldn’t initially figure out where I landed on the sensing/intuition category or the thinking/feeling one. But then he went on to discuss the dangers of the “one-sided spirituality” which can result from the problem mentioned in the previous paragraph. When we only stick to what we are familiar with, to what feels safe and comfortable for our personality type, our spiritual practices can end up disintegrating (pg. 62). Mulholland points out that this can happen in two ways – either people fall away from their faith, or they continue through the motions of spiritual practices but face feelings of stagnation (pg. 63).

Yep, stagnation – that’s the same word I used over a year ago to describe how I felt in high school. From what I’ve read so far of Mulholland, I now think this was primarily because I was only feeding the “thinking” side of processing data (pg. 52), and I was starving the “feeling” side to death. But it wouldn’t die. Instead, it filled my heart with cravings that I couldn’t satisfy through my typical “thinking” approach. It took a year and a half of college, but when the moment was right God stepped in and started pouring out His love and fulfilling that need of my heart.

Anyway, that’s not the direction I had intended this post to take {don’t you love when God hijacks something and takes it a completely different direction? J}. I thought I was just sitting down to write about the two books I read/started reading over break that helped verify for me that seeking and desiring a more experiential relationship with God wasn’t just me going off the deep end into some mystical something or other. And no, Mulholland’s books wasn’t one of the two I had in mind!

The first is Heart’s Cry: Principles of Prayer, a book about how to develop a prayerful relationship with God. While most of the chapters do focus on aspects of prayer, it’s also a wonderful, encouraging, challenging book about deepening one’s relationship with God in general. Even the fact that I have the book is a testimony to God’s leading and faithfulness. One day in October, I was taking some time in the prayer room to try to process something that had happened the night before. Afterward, I “randomly” decided to go into the JBU bookstore and look at their bargain books. As soon as I laid eyes on this one, I knew I should get it.

God knew what He was doing {obviously} because He has been using it to guide me into a very intentional growing of how I relate to Him. I’ve known for a while that my prayer practices could use improvement and growth, and this is what God is using to bring that about!

The other book was Night with a Perfect Stranger: The Conversation that Changed Everything, a fictional book by David Gregory. It is a sequel to his book Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, in which a typical modern businessman receives an invitation to have a dinner with Jesus – Christ in the flesh. The first book is more about Christianity in general, while the second is focused on how to practically live out a relationship with God.

As I said earlier, both of these books have been very encouraging to me over Christmas break. I read Gregory’s two books in one morning (they are very easy reads), and I’ve been working my way through Heart’s Cry a chapter a day as a devotional. I’ve also been reading through Ephesians, which has been filled with great reminders.

So God has been once again proving His faithfulness to me by encouraging me. He’s pretty good at that JHeaH