Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment examined the absurdity as he saw it at the time of quantum theory’s assertion that observation fixes the state of a particle. The theoretical cat was both (or neither) alive and dead at the same time – unless of course the cat’s observation was the thing that fixed its state…
Why am I writing about the cat? Well this morning in the prayer room God and I were talking about faith and doubt. A well trodden conversational path between us, I was wrestling again with stepping out in the exercising of His Gifts. Not just any specific gifting I may have received but the stuff every believer has. Not “my calling” but His calling – to go and make disciples and teach all He has made known to us.
I have always believed, from a very young age, that if I ever stepped out God would show up. Fact. Go and pray for that guy in a wheelchair? He will get up. Pray over the dead woman? She’ll wake. Pray against the truck rushing towards the child? It will stop. I’ve always believed in an all powerful, supernatural, miraculous God. My “daddy God” could do anything.
As I grew up into my teens, I began to read Scripture and go to church. I began to receive teaching. Nothing changed my view of a God of miracles, and in fact I’ve had the privilege of seeing a few first hand.
I’ve never stepped out publicly and prayed for one myself. Not like that.
I’ve never gone up to a stranger with a word from God. Never asked an unbeliever if I can pray for them, even though I believe if I do, God will be there.
Is it fear of failure that stops me? Doubt? Looking stupid and making that person think a) I’m a nutter b) “prove” God isn’t real if it fails?
I know I’m not the only person to have this sort of internal battle and conversations with God – I think most do!
So, back to Schrödinger.
All the time I don’t step out, I have not “fixed” my faith. God is neither proven real or it, I’m neither right nor wrong. To put it another way, until you roll that dice you don’t know the score – you could still be a winner and not a loser.
Not knowing isn’t the same as the unknown. That future, fixed state, is the unknown. Here and now I am in a state of not knowing. If I act, my state is unknown.
I realise that this is not a position I can stay in! It goes against everything I have ever believed. It is causing a spiritual friction within me, a dis-ease that has grown stronger as every year has passed. The more I learn, the closer I walk with Him, the more time I spend in His presence, the more ridiculous this position seems.
I feel like I’m offending Him, hurting Him, by not moving on from this place.
I read a lovely line today:
“Fear is the guard dog that is protecting the fortress of spiritual prosperity. When the dog starts barking, we know that the treasure he is guarding is near. Most people do not step over the growling dog. The result: They don’t grow because they don’t practice flowing in their gifts.” (Practicing the Gifts of the Spirit: Stories from Spiritual Java, Kris Vallotton).
Last Sunday evening we had a teaching session at our church, part of a “Firestarters” series. We are looking at these very issues of stepping out, developing and using the Gifts. One of the themes that developed was the spiritual principle of being filled – the constant, continuous state – and how that filling becomes an overflowing that reaches others.
We surely all know that principle? We “get it”? I’m sure you’ve sung a worship song at some point with words like it – calling on God to fill you, fill you to overflowing. I’m sure you’ve prayed it. I’m sure you meant it.
For me, I know I have. I also know that if I examine my heart, truthfully, in light of all of the above, I have to come to the painful conclusion that at least in some part, I don’t FULLY mean it.
Have you ever left the tap running? Over filled the bath? Over filled the sink? Set your coffee machine to the wrong cup size? Had a saucepan boil over?
It was messy wasn’t it? Took some clearing up. Maybe left permanent damage (if it was the bath!).
I don’t like mess.
I was never (to my shame and guilt) a finger painting, cake making, messy play kind of mum (my mother was – I missed that gene!). I WANTED to be. I TRIED to be. I would set up the crafts stuff, cover the table with something to protect it, sit alongside my son(s) and make an effort.
It lasted until the mess started. Then I started to intervene to try to prevent the worst of the mess. Usually I ended up either taking over completely to finish the craft work myself (in a correct and tidy fashion) or in some sort of a meltdown – mine or theirs.
I don’t like mess.
I’m a chef and I clean as I go. I cannot understand messy cooks!
Maybe, just maybe, part of me secretly realises that if I allow Holy Spirit to flood me, fill me to overflowing, it will be “messy”.
If I go up to that stranger in the coffee shop and share a Word, it will be messy. Uncomfortable. Challenging.
If God shows up and I heard the Word right and deliver it correctly, what then?! Yes my faith will grow but hang on, what about the guy at the next table? What about the woman behind the counter? Doesn’t God want to talk to them too? Shouldn’t I go up to them?
Once you throw that dice…. open that box… you are in a new state. No going back. New ground.
If I don’t get it right (and our pastor shared an amusing – after the event – story of doing just that an approaching some woman with a less than warm reception), what then? Will it make me doubt God?
“No!” (so my conversation with Him this morning went) “of course it wouldn’t.”
“What then?” (He asked). “Will you try again? How many times will you try again?”
Truthfully, this terrifies me. How about you? Will you pray with me? Stand with me? If you have already opened the box/rolled the dice, will you encourage me? If you are yet to do so, will you hold my hand and we’ll do it together?
Holy Spirit, reveal to me what I need to do to move past that guard dog of fear. Hold my hand as I step over it and step in to the fortress of spiritual prosperity.