A few months ago I took a “spiritual profile” survey at a continuing education meeting for Stephen Ministry. The survey asked me some multiple choice questions (which I answered) and then had me score them according to a certain numbering scheme. Basically, the author of the survey believes that the spiritual path of finding and expressing relationship with God is not the same for every person. She identified three major paths: The path of selfless action, the path of complete devotion, and the path of wisdom and reflection.
I scored 8 in the path of selfless action, 2 in the path of complete devotion, and 0 in the path of wisdom and reflection. I was one of only a few in the room who identified so strongly in one area, and the only one who was so strongly in the path of selfless action except for the person who was administering the continuing education.
What I am completely and utterly embarrassed to admit (but am going to do so anyway) is that before going through this exercise, it did not even occur to me that anything could be as important as serving God through my actions. After all it says,
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you did no supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?
It’s why I sponsor children and serve as a child ambassador. It’s one of the reasons I teach and why I volunteer at other outreach events. Isn’t that how we relate to God? Through obedience and through loving our neighbor?
It did not even occur to me that someone else may believe anything is more important.
But this survey and the following discussion rocked my brain a bit. Praise and worship. Adoration of God. Devotion. Study. Silence. Contemplation. Prayer. These things are important too. And for some, it is how they relate best to God.
I’m sure most of you already knew this. But I was so strongly associated with the path of selfless action, that I literally felt disoriented for a bit. It really helped me understand my fellow Christians better, I think.
And then a few months went by. I had a baby. I taught summer school. I got caught up in daily life. And I forgot some of the revelations I had that evening.
But it was like the Holy Spirit came knocking on my door again this morning. To remind me of the understandings that had moved to the back of my brain, gathering dust.
I was sitting in the beautiful wood and stone sanctuary of my church at home. The prayers and incense were wafting up. The ceiling is very tall, making a large open space. Lanterns hang midway between floor and ceiling. A large cross is suspended over the altar. But I did not notice any of this. At least not at first.
My six month old was on my lap. Eyes, wide. He looked up in wonder at his surroundings. He looked up and stared, eyes sparkling, mouth open. Over and over again. At times he even bent over almost backward in order to see all that surrounded him. The sanctuary is beautiful, like God. It is big, like God. It it holds us in awe if we really take the time to look (like God).
I saw God in the look of wonder on my baby’s face. And I wasn’t doing anything. We can be in relationship with Him through serving our community. Or we can be in relationship with Him by sitting in a worship service and watching our children.
So I was reminded, again, by my six month old….that God is just waiting for us to notice him. There are many ways to be in relationship with Him other than obedience and good works. We can find him anywhere. All we have to do is open our eyes in wonder, and look.