While I relegated body and soul to using scavenged resources to enhance their position, the best resources are reserved for my spirit.
Clearly the task of investing in my spirit is the most challenging of the three tasks, simply because it is the biggest playing field. There is no end of things I could do to improve the vitality and effectiveness of my spirit.
In the first blog of this series, I listed five areas that I tagged for action in the current round of investment. (I re-evaluate every few months to see if my priorities are still congruent with the changing realities outside me).
1) The first area of healing my spirit is way too personal to blog about, so we will just skip any discussion of that item.
2) The second major area is unpacking the resources that are in my spirit. There are two levels to that. The area that gets the most press is the disciplines or activities one can engage in to develop those things you already know about your spirit.
To me, the bigger issue is the things you don’t know that you don’t know about your spirit. What is there that you don’t know about? Whatever you don’t know is there, you certainly cannot develop. The burning question is, “How can I find out what the King placed there, so I can unpack it?”
I am in a new season of my walk, where God is primarily revealing my spirit to me in the context of community. There is a three-step process.
-God brings someone into my life who is a divine appointment.
-These individuals relate to me in a distinctly different way — each one uniquely — and instead of my being irritated or bored, it wakes up a portion of my spirit and I respond to them in a way that is quite different from my normal style. That gets my attention.
-Then I allocate the time to decode the experience and try to put into soul words what it was that was awakened in me through that meeting.
It happened just the other day in a big way. I was on a roll saying “no” to everyone about everything. The redemptive gift training we are producing has an enormous appetite for time and any other resource that is not severely nailed down.
In the midst of that, a name floated across my computer screen from about six years ago. I found myself initiating contact and setting up a breakfast meeting. This was VERY uncharacteristic of me. That is, I think, the third breakfast meeting I have initiated in this century. When I got done writing the e-mail, my soul was slightly shocked, but I noticed that my spirit was feeling pretty smug.
Sure enough, it was a divine appointment — electrifying.
So God initiated, and I picked up on the cue and made the right call on a fiercely crowded day. I had the appointment and something was awakened in my spirit.
The third step is still evading me. I have replayed the tapes of that breakfast meeting a dozen times and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that happened in me, but I know it was about my spirit, I know it was an important piece of who I am, but that is all I know so far.
Obviously, I need to connect with them again, spend more time in a different setting to get more data. If I have enough data, I can usually spot a pattern and put language to it. So, I will allocate some prime time to pursue this relationship.
Discovering the rest of what is in my spirit is a very expensive project, but I give it my prime time. I had two more names come across my screen today — while I was pushing hard to meet a deadline. One was from ten years ago and the other five. I felt the nudge on each and sent a casual communication to see if they would respond. I think there may be something there.
The point is this: God is initiating with greater frequency and diversity in the last two months than I can ever remember. I have a sense that each of these people is giving me a letter or possibly a word. When I get all the words, I will have a sentence with meaning. There is something I don’t know about me that God really wants me to know.
He initiates. I use my skill in distinguishing between the routine requests and the transformational ones. The person induces a response from my spirit that has a different flavor. I spend prime time in the evening, on the couch, sifting through each of the phone calls, e-mails and very occasionally the personal encounters to try to tease out the responses that were from a new territory in my spirit.
3) The third area that is vital for the future is to increase my spiritual authority. Now in one sense, just about everything in the course of a day can be used as a platform for developing my authority. Simply put, spiritual authority is like a muscle. When I use it, it grows, when I don’t use it, it atrophies.
The reality is, I don’t have the time or the energy to engage with everything that floats by. There has to be some sort of grid, a prioritization of WHICH area of authority I need to pursue in a focused way.
Again, God has taken the initiative. All I have to do is analyze the kinds of problems He is sending my way, and I know what He wants me to learn.
Think of it this way. If God wanted me to become a superlative batter, He would pitch me a lot of baseballs. If He wanted me to become a better sailor, He would send me more gales. All I have to do is find the pattern of problems and I will automatically know which course I am enrolled in at this time.
Right now, the pattern is clear. God is trying to bring my discernment to bear on time, so I can spot defilement on time and clean it up swiftly and effectively.
I am not doing too well here yet, but the King sure is tireless on the pitcher’s mound. On Sunday, I was in a rotten mood. I did my best to stay away from people and keep my toxicity to myself. Things slowly got better over the next two days, but it wasn’t until today I realized that this was not my junk — it was defilement on time, and He allowed me to feel it, so I could fix it.
I watched that pitch go right by me. Sigh.
Again and again these days, the stuff I am dealing with in my life or other people’s lives comes back to time, because the King wants me to grow my skill in discerning defiled time and hone my authority in cleansing it.
Here all the initiative is with God and He has no compunctions about lavishly squandering great big chunks of my time, peace of mind, effectiveness at work or any other resource, nailed down or not. All I have to do is stay in the batting cage and keep on swinging at those knuckle ball pitches that make Charlie Hough look boring.
4) The next area is simply adding more Scripture to my data base so the Holy Spirit and/or my spirit can retrieve it as needed. I will use an iPod with the whole Bible on it. We can listen to the entire Bible, read at a pulpit speed, in about 80 hours. With the ear buds under my pillow, I should be able to expose myself to the Bible about 25 times every year during the night watches. This will build a huge snow bank of truth (Isaiah 55:8-11) that my spirit can draw from in any context.
5) Finally there is the issue of what it really means for me to experience the fullness of Christ. This is an issue that on the surface could take a few years. I have printed out a pile of relevant passages. I have done a lot of study on the human heart. There is nothing sophisticated about my approach here. I just throw a lot of time and effort at it, looking for the transferable principles.
I know how to grind on a big project. This is the story of my life. It is what research in any field is all about. It takes awhile to sift though all the possibility, but in the end, you get some relevant data, and the data spells a pattern.
So there you have it. In steps two and three, God has the initiative and I have to respond and synchronize with Him.
In steps four and five, I take the initiative and invest time, effort and a little bit of technology. Along the way I expect God to honor my investment of prime time in the latter two steps by shortening the normal process with some revelation.
The net effect is that a year from now I will be in a different place. I won’t be where I would like to be. But I sure won’t be where I am now.
And in every single one of these areas, the benefits from my investment in my spirit will be valuable whether I am in prison, or running the business, or immersed in a major move of God a year from now.
Copyright April 2011 by Arthur Burk
From home, after a wordy day at work