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Spiritual without knowing God?

This 37-year-old felt pretty young sitting in that waiting room with all the silver-haired cardiology patients.  I felt like I was in the wrong place.  But no, I was exactly where I was told to be.  An adult woman with a new murmur needs to see a cardiologist.

All the nerves turned to tears when the doctor’s final sentence to me was a question: “See you in three weeks, ok?”  His “ok?” made me ask myself if I was.  And the tears came.

“Let’s talk about why you are crying.” He said. “I am not going to leave yet.”

He has to be one of the most kind, gentle, and insightful doctors I’ve ever met.  He is a self-proclaimed “spiritual” healer and was really interested in knowing about the details of my beliefs.  His online bio says that he believes spiritual health is intertwined with physical health.  He desires to treat his patients as whole people and use all approaches to bring healing.

I was crying because I was simultaneously relieved and terrified.

I had asked him if I could die suddenly from this heart issue.  “No.”

“You are delightful. I strongly sense that the divine has you here for important work.  Your time here is not yet done.”  He was like a walking, talking best-fortune-cookie-ever.

But I don’t read fortune cookies.  A few years ago I made a decision to always crumple them up unread.  In 1 Samuel 28, a freaked-out Saul used a spiritual medium to bring Samuel back from the dead for a chat.  It’s a pretty funny story.  It would make a great movie scene.  An illegal medium gets freaked out when she discovers her customer is the guy who made her profession illegal.  Their banter is funny to me.  And I hear a huge lesson for God’s children in this passage.

When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium… (1 Samuel 28:6-7)

Saul needed to hear from God.  He had tried the normal ways but God didn’t answer him.  That drove Saul to go another route: spiritualism.

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed ; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and no longer answers me, either through prophets or by dreams ; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary ?  (1 Sam 28:15-16)

Ok check it out: the medium actually accessed Samuel!  The Bible says that dead people can be reached via a medium.  Interesting, right?

But here’s the lesson I see:

1. Consulting the medium was plan B.  Hearing directly from God is what we were created for.  We don’t need a medium.  We have God for our Father, Jesus as our intercessor and the Holy Spirit as our indwelling guide and transformer.

2. Consulting the dead through a medium only enables you to get info from dead people.  What good is info from dead people?  I love how the dead-Samuel says it, “Why then do you ask me…?”  What good is asking dead people??  If we don’t know how to hear from God, hearing from dead people isn’t actually a good substitute!

3. Fast-foward to the New Testament.  Jesus is not longer physically on earth and the Holy Spirit has come to in-dwell in the lives of the Believers.  Game-changer!  In the Old Testament, Saul had been looking for an answer from God via dreams, divination tools and prophets.  In the New Testament, we hear God directly and also through other Believers who have the same indwelling Spirit of God.  This means we get to hear from God more often!!  And we all also get to hear Him and share those words with others.

My doctor seems to have a spiritual insight that is uncommon.  From what I’ve seen, I believe that people who don’t know God can still hear Him and have insights into the spiritual realm.  And it’s those kinds of people who end up being more prone to be “prophetic” and/or “prophets” when they know Jesus and are part of the Body of Christ.

Twice I’ve experienced unsolicited palm readings.  In both situations I had merely offered to practically help people I saw were in need.  Once, when I was working at a department store, I saw an elderly lady trying to juggle her shopping items and deal with an oxygen tank and nose tubes.  I offered to help her to the register area.  She cried and seemed amazed at my kindness.  “I want to give you a gift as a thank you.” She said.  I explained that it’s just part of my job and no thanks were needed.  She grabbed my hands and traced my palms with her fingers.  The other time was when I was the scholarship and membership coordinator for a local YMCA.  I gave a full-scholarship to a family that fit the income and situation parameters.  The mum was so grateful she hugged me and grabbed my hands and studied them.  Both women said they saw strange things in my palms.  One asked if I was an angel.  Words filled my mouth… no, I’m not an angel but the Spirit of God lives in me.  One said my timeline doesn’t end.  Again words just came… I believe I will live forever with God because of the salvation of Jesus.  Both women were amazed and said they hadn’t met someone like me before.  They both said I had pure spiritual light.  They both said they felt meeting me was destiny.

Both were fascinating encounters that left me with lots to think about and pray about.  And I end up having a problem and an intrigue.

Here’s the problem I have with spirituality that exists disconnected from knowing God: I don’t trust it.  I think the doctor is great but I don’t trust the source of his information.  His words were comforting but I know that true and enduring comfort comes only from a relationship with God.

Here’s the intrigue I have with spirituality: There is a pursuit of insight and knowledge that should exist within the Body of Christ.  We are people who hear God.  We are people who can know the unknown.  But we don’t pursue it.  I think it’s because we don’t want to idolize spirituality.  We want to pursue and worship God only.  But have we thrown a baby out with the bath water?  By knowing God, don’t we also know the spiritual world?

My doctor is functioning in a realm that belongs to me too.  I had not gone to his office with the mindfulness to be listening to God for a word or any other of the spiritual gift functions described in 1 Corinthians 12-14.  I was consumed with thoughts about my physical health.  Bubbled up in my own journey of trying to trust God.  Totally inward focused.  Major fail.

And so I’m thinking today about two big things:  Trusting God (yes, clearly I’m not done with dealing with trust issues!) and the Spiritual Ministry of the Body of Christ.  Praying today for the wisdom and ability to rise above my self and be the minister God has called me to be.  Not a weirdo but a connect between the Spirit of God and this world that needs Him.  A conduit of God’s words to us.


How is your spiritual ministry?  How do you see God empowering you with the gifts and functions He has for each of us, His children?

Want to read through the Bible with me?  Today’s readings are:Psalm 95, 96, 97 ; Acts 6:1-15

The verse that stood out to me today: “At this point everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s.” (Acts 6:15)  // Father God I want to minister in Your Love and Power like Stephen did.

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