I’ve been writing small.
I can only reflect God as I understand Him, and I was in a very early stage of understanding when I began my spiritual journal. That does not diminish the importance to me of earlier posts; it recognizes that posts I write can only reflect my spiritual awareness at one point in time.
The more I pray; the more I read the Bible and study Jesus’ teachings; the more I interact with people who are seeking spiritual growth; and, the more I challenge my understanding of God by God’s grace, the more I grow spiritually — and the more I change.
By believing in Jesus and practicing His teachings, I am altering my reality.
Perhaps I can best describe what I am feeling by illustration: If I stray from the path in a sequoia forest, it is easy to become lost. I can only see what is closest to me. The trees are so large that I can only see their trunks and not the tops of them. I have no idea where I am in relation to where I want to be or landmarks I cannot see. There is no sun to get my bearings. There is only diffused sunlight on the forest floor. I am in the shadows. When I am lost it is easy to feel alone and afraid.
But if I then encounter a forest ranger who knows the forest intimately, whose job it is to insure my safety, and who describes the way out of the forest to me, my understanding of where I am in relation to where I want to go changes. My perception of the forest changes from something dark and scary to something navigable. If he loans me a compass, a satellite phone to reach him, and a map to navigate by, he has empowered me with all I need to find my way — as he continues to search for other lost hikers. Of course, the choice remains mine whether to trust him and use the information and aids he has loaned me — or to remain where I am and wander about on my own. My decision will affect my reality — the forest and my location in it as I perceive it. It will affect how and whether I reach where I want to go.
If I trust in the forest ranger and follow his directions, I may come to a vantage point from which I can confirm I am on the right path; one where I can see the entire forest and not just the trees around me. I may come to a greater understanding of where I have been, where I am, and where I need to go based on the guidance he gave me. That does not mean I won’t encounter dangers along the trail, such as a snake or mountain lion. Nor does it mean that the path will be easy, for sometimes the path will be rocky or slippery and I might get hurt along the way. But if I follow his instructions, I will eventually reach where I am going. Should I encounter trouble and need assistance, he will answer my call.
And as I walk through the forest, my perception of it changes. I am unafraid and able to enjoy it because I now know the way. And I realize that it is much different from what I originally thought it to be. I am aware that I’m traveling a landscape much bigger than I had realized at my starting point. I begin to comprehend that this ancient forest is itself a living thing, and that everything in it is connected and contributes, in one way or another, to my journey.
In my illustration, the forest is the world. The Holy Spirit is the compass. Jesus is the forest ranger and the map is the Bible and Jesus’ message. The satellite phone is prayer. The snake is temptation. The mountain lion is the threats posed by evil or the absence of God in people’s lives. God is my desired destination.
Truth never changes. But my reality — my perception of truth — does. And I realize now that in seeking God, I am seeking truth. For God is truth and God never changes.
God has given all of us what we need to find our way to Him. Jesus shows us the way. But unless we listen to our hearts and undertake to follow Him, we will remain lost and stuck through our inaction.
For a map and a compass without action, is no journey at all.
Photo by “luckyphotographer”