Something that only happens to “important Christians”


I hesitate to put these words down in black and white. These words may undermine, undercut, and offend. I intend no such offence. I hope only to share a curiosity of the body and spirit: a curiosity of chemical balance and chemical imbalance.

If these words stir something you prefer left alone – please put them down. The words below tread on the “normal” chemical imbalances life and living provides. In no way are these words clinically correct and relevant to illness or trauma suffered. We all choose what we read. In this case be guided: please choose to pass, if you sense already they are not for you.

For achieving chemical balance is a goal to be pursued. A balance of internal flows and ebbs equating to a happy, fulfilled and fulfilling life. That place wherein energy levels are high, motivation is good, relationships are blossoming, and life is for living with gusto.

The opposite being something to avoid, rectify and correct. Because therein lies depression, fatigue, listlessness, illness, life overwhelming and draining. A chemical imbalance often diagnosed and treated with prescription and lifestyle changes: better diet, more exercise, more sleep, less sleep, more activity, more trying to achieve balance.

So often those “in balance” look with righteous judgement on those “not in balance”. So often “if only” being their knowing assessment: if only they stopped feeling sorry for themselves, got off the sofa, stopped comfort eating, became active, slept properly, lived properly, looked at life and living properly – they would be in perfect balance.

All of which has merit. None of which is very helpful. Because those feeling that way will already be saying “if only” a lot to themselves and anyone else who will listen.

Where is God in all of this? Where is evil in all of this? Is this spiritual warfare?

Nah – this is ordinary “run of the mill” stuff – nothing to do with God and all that “good and evil” stuff. All that God stuff is about the bible, and loving others and sinning and being forgiven. It’s not about this day-to-day living. We are in charge of that (or not – obviously – if we are feeling cruddy).

Not everything can be laid at God’s door as “His fault”, just as everything is not the Devil at work. But … how can none of this also be “nothing to do with Good or Evil”? Are neither God or the Devil interested in the mundane? Are God and the Devil disallowed from this element of our lives?

And why might that be?

Because isn’t war only significant and heroic for those who have never experienced the reality? And if we live our lives believing we have never experienced spiritual war – how can we ever know the reality – and how can we ever defend/attack?

And what if spiritual warfare is not just significant and heroic – what if spiritual warfare is also mundane and low-key? For what is more debilitating to faith and love than feeling crap? What is more demotivating than feeling cruddy? What makes everything an uphill climb if not low grade mundane chemical imbalance – the imbalances we all suffer from time to time: under the weather, feeling down, having a fat week, tired and not sleeping properly, just feeling bunged-up and not breathing too good? That feeling of “not quite right” that can persist for ages and ages. The low grade “everyday mundane” stuff we all suffer.

(Maybe we just need the seed of curiosity. A mustard seed of a question to attract the attention of evil. Maybe that is all that is needed. Or maybe we have heard our Lord’s voice and are changing our lives and values. Or maybe there is a need our Father perceives for us we are listening … And then find we are feeling under the weather. Slowly and with hindsight (“I seem to have a persistent head cold, sinuses again, tiredness all the time, feeling a bit down, no energy …”) just like normal – feeling crap. But we’ll get over it – we always do.)

Because maybe until we stop invalidating – always – God and the Devil in this low grade stuff every single time … we never will see or hear them. We will never think we are/have been at war – and we will continue to see “Spiritual Warfare” as significant and heroic: something that only happens to “important Christians” (and because I am not important – I am just me – it never will).

And just maybe – if we did – we might just find ourselves, from time to time, “a country of occupation” by an army we didn’t know was there. Where we always confuse bugs of chance with war of chemical imbalance. Because if we did consider spiritual warfare to be an option – an ugly, dangerous, deadly, immoral, and energy sapping debilitating war …

Then what would you do? What might you say? Who might you talk to? And what would you ask?

.

(inspired by this morning’s verses: John 3:1-8 – and then the whole chapter, and then seeing the past eighteen months with a new curiosity)

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23 thoughts on “Something that only happens to “important Christians”

  1. Neat post, Paul.

    I’m left with the question of whether… Day-to-day living is a choice we make between the “Low Grade Life”, and the “Mundane Miraculous”?

    Perhaps the “great saints” engage in the major battles of spiritual warfare… but nonetheless we deal with border skirmishes all the time?

    Just a thought… Grace…. LM

    • Thanks LM – and left me with a question: what is war? Many more die with barely a mention or medal than those who do. So too with low grade and miraculous – which is which when you are doing what you do?

    • PS – just re-read this again and hope it is not “dismissive”. Your first sentence perhaps is the key: is day to day something we consider “low grade” (and if so – why)?, or do we see daily living as mundane miraculous (and can we do that each day – no matter what)? On a personal note: low grade mundane is my default position! And in a “living relationship sense” – might that be termed sleepwalking?

      if so – that might explain the “under the radar” stuff which has taken almost a 1000 words above for me to miss!

      🙂

      Love this church!!

      • No fear, blessed brother. Didn’t take this as “dismissive” at all, but yes… you’ve gotten to the point I MEANT to make, and didn’t express well. It is so easy for us to “sleepwalk” through our days as “low-grade living”, quite below God’s notice or radar, rather like “marking time” until something “spectacularly spiritual” happens like… oh, say… we die and get to meet Him! And equally we miss all the little cool things He does, all the flourishes, all the minor “touches” of grace He salts through our days, because they’re just not “dramatic” enough… no Wagnerian fanfares, no flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, no stentorian voice crying out “Behold!” as the Thames parts… (or the Hudson, or the Mississippi, or whatever).

        Kingdom life certainly CAN and DOES have its “dramatic moments”, oh yes! You, I, many readers here are living proof of that. Yes.

        But God is equally involved, entwined, enmeshed, intimate with EVERY moment, every breath and heartbeat… as are our challenges and wrestling bouts with darkness, shadows, doubts, fears…. all the detritus of the enemy. Sometimes, “spiritual warfare” (insert dramatic Wagnerian chord here)… is no more “dramatic” than refraining from giving a one-fingered salute to the motorist that cut us off and made us miss a critical traffic light, only to find that being that 45 seconds later in our day than we would have been, we “accidentally” bump into an old and dear friend in the elevator or market, and make a lunch date to re-connect.

        Miracle? I dunno. I try to leave more of that to the scorekeepers, I’m too busy with playing on the field.

        But learning to “see God in all things”, being alert to the presence of grace and His intimate interest and involvement in every moment of our being… THESE are important things. And I’m really glad you posted this. I’m working on a “follow up” in fact, right now.

        Grace… LM

  2. Pingback: The Mundane Miraculous | The Postmodern Mystic

  3. Good words indeed. We live in the midst of many invisible monkey-wrench throwers, why be surprised when a upset stomach strikes, or the washer floods, or the traffic lights all turn red when you’re in a hurry? Just as apt to engender worry, anxiety, frustration and loss of cool, distracting us from seeing, saying or doing what we should be seeing, saying or doing. A habit pattern of being on the look-out for what Holy Spirit is doing will help us understand and deal with these sneak attacks. If the enemy (John 10:10) can’t kill us outright with cancer or car wreck, he’ll certainly try to nullify our faith with constant distractions.

  4. Good post Paul. I sense something very personal in your writing here. I believe in Predestination, meaning God had a plan for us from the beginning. He gave us life, he wound us up and let us go. The mundane is our way of getting there, slow but sure each with his or her own set of speed bumps we have to get over. But as long as we don’t give up and to me this is the key, we will get to that end result,here on earth and what lies beyond. Just a thought. Thanks for sharing from your heart, it spoke to me.

    • Sammy – yes to personal. Yes to relationship. And yes to mundane. I like your thoughts. They are gentle and loving. Giving up? Not in this church of “builder uppers” in all your shapes and sizes!! And that is what I value so much – the gentle building-up given/accepted so easily/affectionately in so many of these blogs.
      “We will get to that end result, here on earth and what lies beyond.”
      Thank you Sammy
      ((hug))

  5. Wow… you pose some really deep questions here 🙂 I thought about Ephesians 6:12- “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” I do believe that we are in a spiritual battle, but it wasn’t until I really started following Him that I could recognize it. The longer I walk with Him and the more I seek Him- the stronger my awareness is of every little distraction (or attack from the enemy) that is trying to take my focus off of Him. He is always with us in those mundane things…but I think even then He is guiding us and directing us in the smallest of ways… Great post 🙂

    • I agree Julie! Things I may have once brushed off or dismissed I can now recognize them as the distractions/obstacles to keep me from God’s purpose for that day. Our spiritual war may be composed of mundane battles. Enough so to stay below the radar if we are intuned and perceptive enough to recognize them.

      This is great post Paul. I’ve dealt with depression up close and personal more than once in my life. I have family members dealing with it now. I believe it is hard for those who have never suffered from something such as this to “get it” Mental health has a stigma associated with it that doesn’t get the compassion of something like a cancer diagnosis because many perceive it as a lesser evil even though it can be just as deadly. It’s not in the limelight but lurks in the dark crevices. Unfortunately the “victims” of the disease are often blamed for their own illness. “if only you would…”

      Hitler’s reign of terror did not begin with an onslaught. Instead small “seeds” watered by discontent among a few mutated into the horror that became the holocaust. Sometimes the subtle but continual smaller skirmishes take out more people than one or two grand explosions.

      Very intriguing thoughts here today, Paul.

      • … and the Lilka – thank you as well.
        I was aware that depression might be spotted (hence my caution) – I find depression an emotive label. Much like gay sex, the “label” of depression easily provokes both polarised opinions as well as “what does he know – not!”
        I was reading yesterday that suicide is the biggest killer of men around the 40 year old mark (way more than women). Not asking for help, all the stereotypes, all the cultural expectations, all the struggle to find reasons – and the point made: too small a percentage of suicides are the result of depression for them to be “one and the same”. The conclusion: an assumption of “being strong” is the achilles heel. And their strap line: “Strong … Silent … Dead”

        Small seeds. Just like faith and the mustard seed. Small seeds of “distraction and skirmish” under the radar are deadly.

    • Thank you both for such a wonderful conversation.
      Julie, thank you for your words: mundane things. And as LM added: mundane miracles. I have always liked seeing Him in the little things, and have always seen only me in the distractions – “silly me!” Yet reviewing the past eighteen months “silly me” might be true, but not the only reason. Mundane distractions below the radar are “harmless” – silly me!
      I think it was Susan Irene Fox who wrote of a sheep: one blade of grass away from the path, then another and another and another …

  6. Excellent observations, Paul. My son suffered in silence. He was a strong person but he did not seek help as a young man and as a professional in the medical field…I believe it was because of how weak he thought he may have been perceived and the label that would have followed him for life. I can only speculate.

    Society is still trying to come out of the Dark Ages, concerning mental health. Before the Reformation, the church was steeped in superstition and ignorance. Its declaration of distinction between sins made suicide a mortal sin and believe it or not punishable by death if the poor sick person failed in the first attempt. Really? I know. The history is incredible.

    It’s my opinion that society has a long way to go yet in order to erase the stupidity of stigmas. The church/Christians need to be more proactive and understanding. Thank you, friend!

    • Hi Dale – I thought of you and a few others as I typed this post. Praying my words would not land insensitively. So your words are most welcome, thank you.

      I read your “six years” post with pain. And sitting here reading your comment and sitting quietly a thought popped in (too easy to attribute to “him” – thus making it “official” – I hope he whispered this ..)

      How your pain at Brandon’s death, must be akin to that of the disciples. Jesus “chose” to die for reasons they could not fathom. Guilt was very much in the days I suspect – could they have done more, should they have done more. Pain and loss. Sorrow and emptiness. Yet – just as with the Holy Spirit – you have Brandon’s words, his journals, his thoughts and his conversations. You read them still – just as we each have the words of our departed God Soft Hands Jesus. Somewhere in there is joy, is life, is hope. For you – just as for them.

      ((hug))

  7. wow, what a deep way of provoking us to thinking from another perspective…hmmmm, i suspect a little bit of oppression possibly? i find that easy to pick up on, as i too have felt the mundane, blase’ kind of days that can often captivate me a bit too much! that’s usually my “aha” moment…i soon realize i’m asking the exact same questions that you mentioned…
    i’ll say this, it’s so easy to slip into that mode (from my own experience) and sometimes i don’t want to come out, i like being “hidden” in my own little cave…
    but i must say, i do think there are those little demons who provoke us to crawl into that cave and their point is to keep us there!
    yeah, it’s tough climbing out, but keep your eyes open and let your heart feel the beat of the Father’s love…that’s the key to crawling out and seeing the light…
    maybe this makes no sense at all, maybe i’m missing your point, if so i apologize…i’m hoping and praying for you that you (as well as many, including myself) will see the light of day and not be afraid to take hold of those annoying little things that make us want to retreat and never conquer those ugly little creatures sent to torment…i keep thinking of Eph 6 where it talks about us not wrestling with flesh and blood…
    thanks for the thought provoking post…i haven’t been on WP in quite some time and am happy i stumbled on your post!
    blessings to you 🙂

    • Hiya Selah – thank you! And you are spot on. Missing nothing 🙂

      You reminded me a phrase (I cannot remember when or from who): “We are great together in a crisis – it’s the periods in between that we struggle”

      Thank you and Him for stumbling my way.

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