For the past week or so, I have been struggling in attempts to concisely describe a jumble of themes, in hopes that--somehow--I could help someone drop a scale or two off the veil that separates them from perceiving more of God's love for them and more of God's light already present (though undetected) all around them. Most of the billowing swirls have landed in snippets in as-yet unpublished books, but here's one I think is ready to be released.
You have no doubt met a particularly intelligent, attractive, artistic, or otherwise exceptional person. Something stirs within us when we interact with people who have some facet that extends beyond what we are accustomed to, and towards the ideal of God. I'm not sure how explicitly anyone thinks about these things. I think that, in most cases, the response is mostly undetected, and even if considered, doesn't go much farther than concluding some people are "born that way," and moving on.
The adversary tries very hard to derail the intended path of these interactions. He stands to lose a lot if they are properly used.
God does not sprinkle these things, experiences, and people in our lives to be ignored. Nor are they meant to be merely viewed as distantly external oddities. These things, experiences, and people are a call from him: an invitation to accept the reality of divine potential in all people and things and experiences.
We are pretty numb to God's signals, insisting with fervitude that they only come in very restrained channels, narrowly defined by religious traditions given to us by people who very obviously do not know God themselves. Just as God can't be contained within one day a week, he can't be contained in the narrow boxes we try to limit him to.
One instance of this numbness to God's signals is in how we prioritize the value of things like intelligence, attractiveness, artistry, etc. Most people tend to view these things as inherent qualities: more something you are born with than something you develop. Rather than argue the merit of this, I would like to point out something more important: God does not value what people can't change as much as he values what they can change. No matter how our mortal bodies may be tuned to see certain signals more easily than others, God's valuation prioritizes what requires human choice to manifest. Read that sentence a few more times, because it is really important.
When you see a beautiful work of art, or a beautiful person, or hear a really smart person speak, don't let your marveling be the end of the experience. Think about deeper echoes of the situation and try to discover things you can do as a person to manifest improvement through choice, and think about how God might feel if you did so.
Let me give you a really specific example. Years ago, I was on a date with my wife, and we went to see "Wonder Woman" in the theaters. I was deeply moved by the scene where she is in a trench, confronted by the destruction of a nearby village, surrounded by people who thought (and probably rightly so) they were helpless to do anything about it because of the machine guns that would tear them apart if they tried to leave the trench. The soldiers knew that she was a woman, and that was strange for their situation, but they had no idea to what extent she was different than they were. She takes off her oversized coat, revealing her very strange uniform and more of her physical beauty, and then she climbs up the ladder and charges right into the machine guns. I really appreciated how she didn't just do this alone. While she clearly had powers the other soldiers did not, her courage in facing the challenge seemed to do almost as much to empower them as her ability to take out several of the guns while the other soldiers followed her out of the trench.
While we are not Amazons, all of us have special powers. We are children of the Most High God. We are made in his image. Being children of a real God in real life does not convey the same kinds of powers as being children of an imaginary God in a movie. We do not inherit bulletproof bodies or super speed. But every one of us has the gift of a mind and heart that can be filled with the same motives as God himself.
In the movie, those soldiers stopped thinking Wonder Woman was just one of them (even if a little different) the second the opportunity provided for her to act very differently than them. But, when she did, she called them towards what they were capable of doing all along, but didn't realize until someone else did it first. In being who she really was, she drew out the soldiers who were actually more like her than any previously realized.
Jesus came here to draw all men unto him. If he had not come here, that could not have happened. What he did has yet to be fully perceived and received. That is a very important idea, so you might want to read that again. Part of the process is for all of us to live out that part we do perceive and receive. In doing so, we make it easier for all people to see more of Jesus, and live more of him in their own lives. It is a chain reaction: ripples that go out from the center of the lake. Jesus came in the form of a man and showed us tremendous things which we have only scratched the surface of understanding. We all need to transmit the ripples through the whole lake before he can come again in the form of God and show us more.
When you allow God to fill you with his love by trusting him, seeking him, and obeying him in all things, you will find SO MANY opportunities to throw down your rags, wrap yourself in his name, and climb out of the trench into a hail of bullets, even if it hurts, and even if it kills you.
- Stand up for the oppressed. When you see someone being unrighteously attacked, stand for their defense.
- Call for justice. Desire what you deserve, and live to deserve what you desire. Do not support causes that seek to deprive people of what they have earned.
- Forgive those who have hurt you. Do it as often as it happens, no matter what was done or how badly it was done.
- Care for others, especially those who cannot pay you back. Relentlessly help other people in all things, big and small.
- Build your life into the work of art God intended it to be. Fill your life with abundance by constantly seeking that which is of most worth, all day, every day.