Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mountain-High Christianity and Reality

On my way to prayer meeting last night I claimed my travelling promises. The first was for God's protection. Then I prayed for the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Next I prayed Matthew 6:6 about "seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (by faith) and that God would provide all the other things I needed. Finally, I prayed the prayer of Jabez: "Oh that you would bless me and increase my borders. Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I may be free of pain." And God granted his request.

Usually I turn on the radio, National Public Radio or the classical music station and enjoy the fading light. Last night, however, I started singing hymns but not just cut-and-dry like you sing them in church. I imagined myself a distant descendant of Maria Callas who never sang an aria in concert the same way on any two performances. Each note was lovingly caressed or interpreted. When I felt like inserting a grace note I did. When I wanted to change the key slightly before returning to the familiar key, I went ahead and enjoyed the non-standard approach to singing hymns. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed that first hymn. They were all hymns in Spanish as I was heading to Spanish prayer meeting at my local Adventist church.

It was the first time that I really enjoyed singing hymns as I traveled back to my neck-of-the-woods after having worked my eight hour day. One hymn effortlessly melded into the next and I knew something strange was happening. Singing hymns was what I most wanted to do. It actually produced a pleasant state of awareness. Boredom was the farthest thing from my mind. How easy it was to capture a spiritual high, simply by singing hymns, but singing them with such feeling and awareness.

When I arrived in church I shared my wonderful song fest experience after the officiating elder asked if anyone had a special testimony. Requests for special prayer came and went and I offered my request for difficult neighbors. I, unfortunately, had not thought of whether my neighbors needed God's blessings in spite of their unpleasant behavior. The elder made me realize my one-sided approach to prayer requests. When it came time to pray with my payer partners I remembered my neighbors and asked that God would help them and that he would help me as well as far as the slamming doors and occasional running marathons they seemed to enjoy in the passage just outside my front door. I asked God to take control of the situation and to provide a solution to the noise and bizarre behavior of my young neighbors.

After the evening meditation had come and gone, I was asked to offer the final prayer. Normally, the thought of praying in public, especially in Spanish, unsettles me, but this time I spoke as confidently and as sincerely as I've ever prayed in a long while.

Something was happening that was different from what I normally feel in a prayer meeting or during my ride home. A strange lightness of being, a closeness to God, and something else, a forgetfulness of self, were making themselves felt as never before.

Once home I read the Spirit of Prophecy and just couldn't put it down. When it was finally time to retire, I thanked God for hours of spiritual introspection like nothing I had experienced for many years.

The next day during a staff meeting, something didn't click and I was too facetious with others during the appropriate time in the meeting for informal remarks, but unfortunately my comments were inappropriate and I realized it, but said nothing further in order to save face. The afternoon sun was spilling its cheerfulness on me as I walked to my car and wondered how I could have been so thoughtless to have made such an off-color comment without any premeditation on my part.

Instead of singing more hymns I reached for my electronica CD deep in the glove compartment and let synthesizer rhythms and vague whisperings of "walking on thin ice" transport me to a secularized cinema-like drive home.

What a change from yesterday. How easily a mountain top experience becomes a living-in-the-real world drive home.

Oh well, it was wonderful while it lasted and I look forward to everything falling into place again very soon. Perhaps one day soon I'll sing and pray and read my bible non-stop from morning till evening time and leave everything else behind.

1 comment:

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