Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's How I Made It Seem

Who doesn't like to feel special? Those instances in which I believed God spoke to me personally certainly made me feel that I'd achieved some level  of spiritual status, and sharing accounts of those experiences allowed me to enjoy the admiration of  friends who interpreted my narratives as indications of my "Christian maturity."

If anything, those experiences demonstrated an immaturity, as I very subtly crafted my  language to appear to glorify the  Lord while pointing to myself. Rarely did my "revelations" focus on the Person and work of  Jesus Christ. They almost always were about what I could do for Him, or how He had blessed me.

The last "word" I "got" had nothing at all to do with  Jesus; it was merely a realization that someone I considered irritating had more profound physical disabilities than mine, therefore invalidating my self-pity. Although the Lord, I'm sure, brought me to that realization, He did so by giving me the ability to reason that a quadriplegic man who was also blind and non-verbal couldn't enjoy a sunset, sing in church or know the pleasures of relationships.

Before I'd become a Christian, I'd had a similar realization that a classmate who had become disabled as a teen held more bitterness than those of us who had never walked because she, unlike us, had memories of life without disability. Yet, I've never couched my retelling of that realization in terms of the Lord directly speaking to me. Since this revelation occurred five or six years before I became a Christian, I never considered it to be any message from God. Insightful for a pre-teen, definitely. But hardly a story I've ever recounted as evidence of the Lord speaking personally to me, as I did whenever I spoke about the blind, non-verbal quadriplegic man.

When I understood the contrast between me and the quadriplegic, I had much to gain by spinning it in terms of hearing from God. At the time, I worked in Christian ministry, yet had a  sexual relationship with a man who wasn't a genuine Christian. I needed clear evidence that my spirituality had not waned, so convincing myself that God had spoken to me offered my assurance that I still had my high position with Him. I needed a "spiritual experience" to validate me.

But God was speaking to me in Scripture, calling me to repent of immorality. I chose not to hear His voice there. I preferred a more mystical encounter with Him that distracted me from the real issue and bolstered my reputation as a spiritual giant. Who wouldn't want an experience  like that?

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