It’s a new year and it’s going to be filled with incredible encounters between you and God! I’m excited to share this blog post because activating your spiritual senses opens one of the doors to being intentional in your relationship with God. Today’s Soul Focus is an excerpt from my unpublished book, Now That I’ve Found You, God. I wrote this with my friend, and church pastor, Bob Bowers.
Along with the post, I’ve provided a podcast that guides you through a practice of quiet. Now, I’m going to go off road here for a moment so bear with me because this is going somewhere. I think of you as a family and with your family you try new things such as a new recipe. Well, I’ve recorded this podcast with high hopes that its beneficial and does what I hope it will do—guide you into a place of mindfulness and a sense of relaxation. But…we all know things may seem like a good idea and then Kaplooey! If something doesn’t work, then I want to know. Your comments are so important. You’re the experts! Now, let’s go to the Soul Focus.
Soul Focus - Your Spiritual Senses I
Do you have a television show that captures your rapt attention? You know the one—where the story unfolds with each new episode, each new season. Well, what if we compared our lives to a long-running television series? Each episode shows the characters making choices and decisions to create dramatic endings, successes, comedy relief, or loss and sadness. As we watch, we often see or know what the characters cannot. The choices and actions of a character determine their outcome. As viewers we don’t get to butt in, advise, direct, or help the character in any way to take the best path or make the better choice. We can only watch it unfold.
As I look back at the episodes of my life, playing the re-runs in my mind, I’m amazed at my lived experiences. I see sadness, excitement, good choices, poor choices, success, loss, courage, laughter, silliness, and regret. And, all along God watched as I lived it but never simply as a viewer of my life. God has always been willing to interact with me, connect with me. He walked with me in every one of those moments and was available to offer me direction and wisdom. As I’ve replayed those episodes of my life, what stands out most clearly is this: a realization of His protection and faithfulness despite my lack of listening for, perceiving, and seeing Him in those times.
God knows the plans He has for me and, thankfully, He desires to interact with me and lead me away from paths and plans leading to dead ends and deep pits. Being in communication and collaboration with God is the most special part of my relationship with Him. Relationship with God is what makes women and men different from all the rest of creation. When I fail to engage God, interact with Him, then I also fail to listen, perceive, and see God’s direction or wisdom. It is I who spiritually close the door on Him. That act can never be good for me. There came a time when I realized I needed (and wanted) to intentionally seek God’s guidance. Now with a new mindset, I continually challenge myself to stop taking the lead on decisions and choices, and enter into a practice of seeking and tuning in to God interacting with me. However, initially the problem for me was the" how" — how do I seek and tune-in to God’s voice, His presence, and see Him?
Contemplating on how I could seek and tune-in caused me to come up with the idea of the spiritual senses. I believe you and I have spiritual senses and each sense acts like a filter. Your spiritual filters are made of your knowledge of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and your history with God including the degree that you trust and hope in Him. When you face a circumstance, event, person, answer, outcome, or difficulty, you have the option of running it through your spiritual filter. This filter allows worldly elements to pass through leaving behind the spiritual implications. Using this practice, you may see, hear, understand, or acknowledge with greater clarity the power and presence of God in the things you experience. The importance of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word is that it teaches, counsels, and guides you to hear, see and perceive. Keep in mind that your personal history with God, and how you relate to Him, has implications for how you will or will not see Him as you face various challenges in your life. Be open to the many ways God will communicate with you.
Yet, there are those other times—other times that no matter how often you ask, seek, and tune-in God is unnervingly quiet. God reserves the right to refrain from letting you see the how, the why, or the big picture. With much sincerity, I am able to empathize with you. I know of the hours, the days, seemingly filled with nothing that could be labeled good. Those times require you to activate your deep trust and hope in His sovereignty. Choosing to lean on the Lord allows you to experience His promise to hold you up in it. From my experience, it may be that you will understand God’s involvement only by way of reflecting back on those times. Reflecting back is how you build God’s history of faithfulness to you. This history between you and God helps you do this: filter new and challenging situations with a belief that God will be with you in the present as He was with you in the past. You want your spiritual senses to be active and turned on so you can listen for, perceive, or see God. In fact, Jesus spoke of this in John 10:27—“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
To better understand each spiritual sense, we need definitions for listening, perceiving, and seeing. All of the definitions are paraphrased from Merriam-Webster.com. Listening means to give apt attention to the message. The listener is fully present with heart and mind while the message is being received. Perceiving means to be aware of or know by way of the senses coupled with recognition and understanding. Seeing is like perceiving and includes the physical vision as well as mental imagery. Seeing may also involve reflection as if you are an outside observer of your own situation.
I believe listening, perceiving, and seeing help you to collaborate and communicate with God who knows all things, sees all things, and is in all things. You benefit when you open your heart and mind and humbly ask for His involvement. Daily you are presented with numerous decisions and choices. Your decisions and choices in addition to how you handle a circumstance matters because you’re a reflection of Jesus to the world or to the one soul who’s watching. When you seek God and anticipate God working in a circumstance, then you will reflect the peace of Christ, the attitude of Christ, and the love of Christ. Listening for, perceiving, or seeking to see God in every aspect of your life relieves you of having to rely on your own limited wisdom and understanding. (References can be found at the end of this post.)
In my next post, I'll provide examples and action steps you can put into practice to enhance your spiritual senses. One element of fine-tuning your spiritual senses is the practice of quiet. Below I have created a podcast that will lead you into a session of quiet listening.
A Practice of Quiet
If you would like to submit a prayer request, a private comment, or ask a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Spiritual Senses Reference List
Definitions for listening, perceiving, seeing:
Verses from Holman Christian Standard Bible: John 10:27—“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”