The Situations of Life

Today I read Jeremiah 30-31 and the next chapter in Soulful Spirituality. How we handle situations in life have dramatic impacts on our own spiritual development and the spiritual development of others. What we perceive to be movements of God or words of wisdom from him can sometimes be nothing more than our attempts to speak into being something we desperately want to happen or in some ways to rescue God from what we perceive as bad PR. We long so much for change to happen, especially in times where life feels like it is not working right, that cause ourselves to hear a voice that we quickly qualify as the voice of God.

In Jeremiah’s day the people were living in despair over their captivity to Babylon. They couldn’t understand how this could be anything close to God’s will and their souls which had been far away from God up to that point did not have the capacity to view the situation from his perspective because they had little perspective on their own lives and how they had failed to live up to what God had commanded. So various “prophets” started speaking for God on things they perceived would happen which all related to quick and early relief from their present sufferings. As you would suspect this message was popular among the people and they chose to listen to these men instead of listening to the minority voice which was really the only voice from God (Jeremiah) who was speaking about long term suffering with a great long term outcome.

Somehow we don’t do well dealing with what we perceive is bad news in life. We tend to think that true spirituality and connection to God should equal spiritual ecstasy and for lack of a better term, good luck, when it comes to how we experience life. Most of us like to live in the world of cause and effect where we feel that certain things we do for God should have certain positive effects in our lives. The reality is, real life, authentic living, happens not only in the spiritual highs of life but in the spiritual lows as well. Our character and our sense of being fully alive in this world is the balance between these two things. In Benner’s book he talks about the spirit being the transcendent fire in our belly that drives us forward and gives us a spiritual high of sorts while the soul is the container that brings a sense of reality and grounding to life that allows us to grow in and through difficult times in life. Have spirit at the expense of soul and you have people consumed by their longings and desires that causes them to flame out or live reckless lives. Have soul at the expense of spirit and you have a life of despair, depression, and melancholy that causes them to live a lifeless and drab life. Our lives are meant to be lived in the balance between the two. Where we live life with passion but do so with a full understanding and embrace of the realities that face us everyday. This allows us to accept both good and bad from God and see both as opportunities to grow spiritually. When this happens cause and effect are not as important as how we live in the midst of life’s circumstances and how they grow our character. It allows us to be at home in our own skin and develop a depth that anchors us to God regardless of the circumstances of life. That kind of grounding allows us to deal with the reality of a message like Jeremiah delivered with a sense of hope and perspective that allows us to function within that reality.

Lord, help me to live an authentic life that balances my spirit and soul in such a way that I am rooted and anchored in you. Help me to take things as they come and strive to constantly hear your true voice in the midst of life’s circumstances. Amen.