Sunday, March 8, 2015

Windows To the Soul - Why I Write (Part 2)

In part 1 (The Obedience of Sinful Man) I shared with you part of my story, as well as an example of how God used a man's simply obedience to touch my life.
I mentioned having made these connections during the Re:Write Conference that I recently returned from. Well, there was another connection I just made this morning, that I felt I should share.
Originally, this was all going to be one post, but I got on such a roll on the topic of obedience, that I had no choice but to split them up.

During the conference, I got the blessing of getting to have not one, but multiple conversations with the writer I mentioned in part 1. It was totally surreal. Not because he's sold millions of books, or even because of the huge impact his words have made on me, but because despite all that he was still human. In fact, he's just like me. He has doubts and struggles and highs and lows like the rest of us. But that's not surprising. In fact, I already knew that.
So what made the experience so surreal?
I got to meet someone who was really desperately trying to live the way Jesus commanded us all to. It was refreshing.

Earlier this week, I was on the phone with my fellow writer Elaine Mingus, sharing with her one of my favorite experiences of the whole conference. Specifically we were talking about this man and his unabashed way of sharing the truths God has been teaching him, even when he doesn't fully understand them yet as well as how understanding and accepting he is of people.
Elaine put it well when she said, "He's just so Jesus-y!"
And I realized that was the perfect way to describe it.
Don't get me wrong, he's no saint. I've heard much of his personal story. I've read of his selfishness and pride that brought him away from God in the past, of his hurts and how he's had to struggle to redefine God outside of the pain of his past. But he's let God change him to be more like His Son, and it shows!

Before I can tell you what happened, I must share with you a little something I found in my morning bible-prayer time.
I was reading Jesus's famous Sermon On the Mount, and I came across a intriguing little nugget buried in the middle. The sermon is a lengthy one, stretching over three chapters (Matthew 5-7) and covering a variety of topics, including murder, divorce, oaths, giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting.

In a section entitled "Treasures in Heaven," sandwiched between verses talking about keeping your focus on heavenly things, rather than earthly possessions and one talking about how you can't serve both God and money is the rarest little verse:
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:22-23)

I have read this sermon many times, as you probably have as well. Like me, you've probably looked over that verse as, "If I focus on what is good and holy (God), then I will be good. But if I give into my sinful nature, I will be full of darkness."
This is fine. It may even have been one of the intended meanings of what Jesus said. But the cool thing about Jesus is that his words transcend time. Meaning, even as you read them countless times, you can get something new and fresh out of it. I never had gotten anything new or fresh from this set of verses. Until today.

What if it could be taken backwards? Think about it.
It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul. So, if your eyes are good, and your body is "full of light," then wouldn't the reverse be true? If one's soul is full of light, meaning you are living like Jesus the best you can, then wouldn't you be able to see that in their eyes? They being the windows to the soul?
If A=B, then B=A. Right?
Simple comparison, but it makes my point.

Now, my question for you is, have you ever seen this? Have you ever seen someone who was so full of the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, that you could see it in their eyes?
You see, I wouldn't have been sure if I could answer this question a week and a half ago. In fact, I wouldn't have even made the connection between the verse and eyes being the windows to the soul before the conference. The only reason I did, is because I spoke with someone who demonstrated this. He wasn't trying. He wasn't putting on a show. He wasn't making himself seem good or holy or "more in tune with the Holy Spirit" than anyone else.
What he was was honest.
He was simply living his life and loving people the way he has learned to over years walking with Christ. And it showed! It definitely showed!

There was moment early on the first day where I went up to him to get the series I mentioned in part 1 signed. During which time, I felt compelled to tell him a little bit about where I was in my faith right then. I shared with him that though I have a solid foundation built right now, I have been struggling to connect with God on an emotional level due to the emotional disconnect I struggle with that I mentioned before. I told him how I miss the connection. To which he replied with, "My talk tonight is for you."

During his talk that night, he talked much about how everything we do flows out of who we think we are, how our experiences are largely influenced by our perception. He spoke of how we need to let go of out intellect, the part that puts God in a nice neat little box, before we can ever begin to see who he really is. He shared how only recently has he begun to really, truly believe that he is a child of the King. With dramatic gestures, he clutched his head, explaining that for years it was something he knew "up here," but only recently had begun to know it "down here," he said with his palms pressed into his chest.
He spoke of this and so much more. But what happened after I remember so much more clearly than what he spoke of.
I waited for the crowds of touched attendees and gawking fans to disperse, and I managed to approach him one-on-one (a rare thing indeed).
"You were right, I did need to hear that." I began.
He said gently, "I told you. I told you." His voice through the entire exchange remains how it generally does: gentle and understanding, like a father calmly guiding a child.
I told him that I needed to hear this as much tonight as I did a year ago (for this wasn't the first time he had spoken on a topic similar to this). Mimicking his gestures from before, I told him that I understand what he spoke on "up here," but I can't quite connect it "down here" yet.
Flustered, I was about to continue, when I finally met his gaze. While he had been holding eye contact the entire time, I let mine wander.

It's a funny thing, eye contact. Rarely do we hold it for any period of time. I believe there's a reason we don't. Like earlier mentioned, the eyes are the windows to the soul. Obviously sharing some part of you that's that deep can be scary. There have only been a few people I've known to hold long eye contact with me. While each time it's happened, the topic of discussion has been different, there was always one thing the same in each experience: they all wanted to connect and be open.

I've been telling people he "stopped" me before I could continue, which gives the idea that he said or did something to cause me to stop my rant before it had even begun. But that is not the case. All he did was look at me, with an expression that said, "Don't get flustered. I understand."
He took advantage of my momentary speechlessness to pull me into a big hug. "Shh," he calmed. "Don't think about it. It will come."
In that moment, I knew he was right. Of course, it's just what he said before. I need to let go of my intellect that tries to tell me how it should be, and be like a child again before God.

Quickly, before he could leave, I asked if he could pray over me. His prayer was simple. With hands on my shoulders and his eyes locked on mine, he just reminded me who I was and who God was. I can't remember his words, except how he ended it with, "Be healed, be healed." As if there wasn't anything simpler than that. Which I guess there isn't.
His words aren't what impacted me though. It was his eyes. For the first time, I held his gaze. It's amazing how much of a person's spirit you can see in their eyes. His were excited, almost like a child's, and so full of love and peace and joy. I could see the Spirit alive in him.
Before this I had never actually noticed anything like that that in someone's eyes before. Sure, I could see by the way they talk or act certain aspects of the Spirit in them, but I'd never seen it.
Maybe I just wasn't paying attention.
Maybe I wasn't looking close enough.
Whatever the case, I shall have to pay closer attention next time. And hold better eye contact, of course!

If you're interested in knowing more about what God's been teaching him and sharing with the world through his gift, click here.

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