Monday, June 15, 2020

How to Begin A Spiritual Journey: The Call to Adventure

We’ve gone through a crazy time in our lives over the past few months. Many of us I’m sure are feeling isolated and alone. It really made me realize just how much I need other people in my life. And do you know what else it made me realize? That I need God. Sometimes it seems like we can turn to God and say, “It’s alright Lord, I got this.” This recent time has reminded many of us that we need God, and we aren’t really in control of our own lives.

I took time to try and find intimacy with God. And I’ve done that through going out to parks and into the woods, and on the water, and simply enjoying God’s world. Spring and summer always remind me of the beauty.

Think of the mystery of the bright moon in the star filled sky. Think of the shock and awe of a hurricane over the ocean, or a tornado ripping through a cornfield. Think of the creaking sound the tree trunks of the forest make as they sway in the wind. Think of the warmth on your skin during a glorious bright summer day. Think of deer as they feed in a field, or fish as they swim up stream. It’s amazing. Did you know researchers in Germany discovered that rats can learn to play hide and seek? And astonomers have discovered over 3,500 planets in the universe so far? Truly shocking and beautiful.

God's works are many in the world and of particular beauty. Yet there is also the proclivity of man toward evil. God allows for free will, which opens the doors to almost any possibility. Which explains why the world is so messed up. Humanity decided to turn from God, and play God. Evil is a reality of our world, we experience it and we know it internally, from the selfishness that is so often in our hearts. Yet God is so full of love, he invites us to a new way. He invites us to make him the center of our lives. And then we’re no longer obsessed with ourselves, we’re obsessed with Him.

Life is best lived with God at the center of all things. We can tend to treat God as an auxiliary to our plans and desires. That is not the way it is supposed to be. God should be the very center. If life is the road and we're the car, God should be the engine. If your life is a city, God ought be the center square, the city hall, the centerpiece of all operations.

Too often we, myself included tend to relegate God to errand boy status. Or watcher status. Or perhaps advisor status. Or order taker status. God is much greater than that. He runs the whole show. Our job is to seek out His will, in a very real and practical sense. What is my calling Lord? What do you want me to do with my life? What goals would you have me pursue? These should be our daily questions to our Maker.

Today we’re beginning a new series called “Spiritual Journey.” And we’re going to look at what it means to be on a spiritual journey, and how we experience deep, meaningful dialogue with God in our lives. Today we’re talking about being called to the adventure.

And during this series we’ll be touching on the spiritual journeys of several different heroes along the way.

Where did your journey begin? Probably not exactly where you expected. Mine started at a low point in my life. Things got really messed up. Is that where yours started too? Sometimes it takes a rock bottom moment to crush our ego enough that we actually are willing to listen.

And how painful it was to simply be isolated during COVID-19, it was like laying with your head under a leaky faucet, with a drip, drip, drip right on your forehead. You almost wished something worse would happen, if it would just happen quickly, and not bleed on for weeks and months.

But pain has a way of forcing us to ask the difficult questions. “What really matters? What is the meaning of my life? What should I do with my life?”
And our scripture today from Isaiah 55 answers those questions for us. It says:

“So you should look for the Lord
before it is too late.
You should call to him now,
while he is near.
7 Evil people should stop living evil lives.
They should stop thinking bad thoughts.
They should come to the Lord again,
and he will comfort them.
They should come to our God
because he will freely forgive them.

8 The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like yours.
Your ways are not like mine.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

10 “Rain and snow fall from the sky
and don’t return until they have watered the ground.
Then the ground causes the plants to sprout and grow,
and they produce seeds for the farmer and food for people to eat.
11 In the same way, my words leave my mouth,
and they don’t come back without results.
My words make the things happen that I want to happen.
They succeed in doing what I send them to do.

12 “So you will go out from there with joy.
You will be led out in peace.
When you come to the mountains and hills, they will begin singing.
All the trees in the fields will clap their hands.
13 Large cypress trees will grow where there were thornbushes.
Myrtle trees will grow where there were weeds.
All this will happen to make the Lord known,
to be a permanent reminder of his goodness and power.”

To begin to experience your life as a spiritual journey, is to seek God. It’s to talk to God in your mind, throughout your day. It’s to take time in the morning and the evening to kneel down and pray to God. It’s to study God’s word each day, searching for nuggets of truth. But it goes much further than this. A spiritual journey is to watch your life unfold according to God’s will. It’s to realize that you are on God’s path for your life. It’s to go to bed and dream dreams that God gives you. It’s to get a word from God in a conversation with someone. Have you ever had that happen, where you realized God was speaking to you through another person? Having a spiritual journey is also to be humbled, to be brought to your knees, crying out to Jesus. And having a spiritual journey is going through a battle, fighting off demons and false teachers, and evil people who want to lead you away from Jesus. And it’s being led places you could hardly imagine.

Having a spiritual journey is also sensing that God is with you. And sensing His love.

Have you felt God’s love for you? It’s the most amazing feeling in the universe, to feel God shining down on you, His love pouring out like sunshine into your soul. Wow. God is love. He cares particularly about you, about what you want, about what you need, about your past, what you’ve been through, and where you’re going, what your destined to do.

Over this next week, take some time to go out to a park, to Devries nature center, to Sleepy Hollow state park, into the wilderness, and spend some time walking down a trail, thinking about God, praying to god in your mind, or sit on the beach, or on a park bench. And simply ask God to reveal himself, to speak to you, and then listen for God. And next week, I’m gonna ask some of you to share how that experience went for you.

So today, as we begin this exploration of our spiritual journeys, I invite you to take that journey with God. It’s going to be incredible.