My journey out of the religious system has caused major changes in my life. Sometimes people will ask me what some of those changes are. If I could narrow it down to one major change, or shift in reality, I would say this:
Doing vs. Recognizing
Growing up, I learned that you have to 'do' to make it in this world. Not only do you have to 'do', you have to 'do' really well. The more that you 'do', the better you will be. Not only is this true in mankind's secular world, it is also true in mankind's religious world as well. Almost everything I learned in the evangelical system could also be summed up under the word 'do'. It was all about what we were 'doing' for the Lord. Unfortunately it was never enough because we could always 'do' more, and 'do' better. 'Do' was killing me, so I eventually left.
If I could use one word to describe daily life in Christ outside of the world's system, I would use the word recognize. The more I live by the life of Christ in me, the more I 'recognize' that the Lord is actually 'doing' all the things that I once thought I had to 'do' more & better. Not only is the Lord 'doing' them, He is actually doing them more and better than I could have ever dreamed. The more that I recognize this reality, the more I am able to rest. The more that I am able to rest, the more I am able to 'recognize' the Lord's heart and activity and get into the flow of what He is already at work doing.
I am realizing that the Lord is continually working and speaking. As a matter of fact, He is a chatter box, so to speak. I am convinced that the things which occur in the natural physical realm are actually a shadow or picture of what is occuring in the spiritual realm. Let me give you a couple of recent examples of this from my own life.
A Dead Squirrel
After returning home from a long drive on a cold day, an innocent squirrel thought it would be a good idea to use the motor in my car as a nice warm place to rest for the night. I can't say that I blame him. The next morning, I got in my car and started the engine rather quickly as I was in a hurry. I heard quite the commotion under the hood. I thought my motor was blowing up. I shut the motor off and looked under the hood when I made that unfortunate discovery. The poor little guy didn't have a chance. That's my first example.
A Bodily Reaction
The second example that I'd like to tell you about has to do with my own body. Recently, I have noticed a very specific physiological reaction occur in my body everytime I find myself in a specific environment and situation. This physical reaction is not new to me, but it is something that I have not experienced in this way in a long time. As I mentioned, it seems to be a specific situation that is triggering this physical reaction.
Initially I thought the situation with the squirrel, as well as my physiological reaction, were simply random events. I did not give them much thought. One evening as I was relaxing and unwinding, these two situations popped into my mind. I was reminded that nothing happens by accident, and the Lord speaks through these kinds of random life situations. I thought to myself;
“Lord, are you trying to say something to me through the situation with the squirrel?”
As soon as I asked the question, I knew exactly what the Lord was trying to communicate through that situation! In a moment I became aware of who the squirrel represented, what the motor of my car represented, and what the death of the squirrel represented. That situation was symbolic for a particular situation occuring in my family, and within our church community. The Lord was speaking to my heart, and it was a very needed message for me to understand.
I then also proceeded to ask the Lord why my body had been experiencing certain things in certain situations. Again, clarity came in an instant! I became aware that it was more than a natural physiological reaction to a particular situation. There was something deeper happening within me. I was reminded of all the times in the past when my body had the same physical reaction around similar people. I suddenly became clear of who those people represented spiritually. In that same moment, I was also reminded that our physical bodies are a picture of His body (church). My body was having a reaction because His (Christ's) body was having the same reaction! At that moment, I had complete clarity about why my body was physically feeling and reacting that way. This insight has even been helpful in regards to understanding my function in the wider body of Christ, and how this may affect my future.
I say all of that to say this…the Lord is always working and speaking through the most unlikely of people, and through the most unlikely of situations. Our Lord is not interested in what we can 'do' for Him. As a matter of fact, what we think we need to 'do', He is already doing.
- You may think you need to 'provide', but He is already providing for you.
- You may think you need to pray, but He is already praying in you.
- You may think you need to convince others to believe in Jesus, but He is already opening the eyes of the blind around you.
- You may think you need to build churches, but He is already building His church.
- You may think you need to memorize His words to share with others, but His Word (Christ) is already in you and desires to speak to others through you.
- You may think you need to love others, but He is already stirring up a deep love for others in you.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Our job is not to 'do', but simply to 'recognize' what He is already doing. It's important to understand, however, that 'recognition' only comes when we are in a state of rest. The more we attempt to 'do' and accomplish, the more we will not be able to recognize what our Lord is already doing in our midst.
When we halt our activity and move into a state of rest, our eyes will then be opened to recognize all the incredible things the Lord is already doing in our midst. His work is fabulous. When we recognize it, we will then naturally move into the flow of His work. This is the key to being obedient to the works that He has prepared for us.
For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore, let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:10-11, NASB)
Resting to recognize,