“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6
The doppler radar screen looked like a Christmas tree on crack. The track of Hurricane Charley as it left the Gulf of Mexico and made land on Florida's west coast was the main attraction that Friday night. Several feeder bands of rain, bursts of wind gusts and tense hours later the storm exited the east coast and headed out to sea. Exhausted but confident that we'd lived unscathed through another hurricane, we called it a night.
That storm was only the first of five that hit the peninsula of Florida that summer; two resulted in mandatory evacuations and windows boarded until Thanksgiving. Charley ripped the roof off of a house we were rehabbing and left it in the backyard pool. After almost twenty years of life in the suburbs of the Deep South, a job transfer provided a means of escape. We packed up the house, the cat, the kid and moved forty-five miles north west of Atlanta – to the heart of Red Neck Nation (which I write with the kindest affection).
Life in Georgia isn't boring. There are real hills here, not the slight undulating rise and fall of the Florida terrain which is equivalent to speed bumps on the beach. No matter what the bumper sticker says about one's car climbing Mt. Dora, there aren't any mountains in Lake County, Florida. We have plenty of them here. I've still not acquired a taste for southern cooking and doubt I ever will. Although English or at least some dialect of it is spoken here, there are times conversations hit a stalemate. If I slow down, elongate my syllables and drop the verb to be I'm usually understood. Despite some setbacks, I wouldn't exchange my life here for anything. I've found God again! While in “the Sunshine State” my husband and I attended several great churches. Personally, I'd grown spiritually stale. I felt as if I'd “put in my time” and I wanted nothing more than to sit back and coast. Let someone else earn the brownie points and get gold stars on their celestial chart, I was bored. What happened?
From early on in my walk with God I'd studied the bible seriously. I wanted to learn all about God. I took the admonition to “rightly divide the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15) to heart. Determined to be a dedicated student of the bible who discovered all the right answers I devoted time, energy and money to learn everything I could. Along the way I substituted knowledge concerning God for relationship with Him. I was like the expert whose head knowledge of a subject far outweighed real-world experience; lots of theory, little practical application. Jesus had me in mind when He said these words.
“You keep examining the Tanakh because you think that in it you have eternal life. Those very Scriptures bear witness of me.” John 5:39, Complete Jewish Bible
How did I get it so backwards?
Intimacy with God was a scary proposition. If the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies once a year could be struck dead for the slightest infraction – surely I'd come out as burnt toast. My idea of a Heavenly Father was that of a rather stand-offish, serious perfectionist. One misstep and the lightening bolts could hit at any time. When the angels partied in Heaven over someones salvation, none of them better spill a drink on the Throne Room floor! After years of believing I didn't measure up, I was worn out. Let others beat their brains out trying, I'd had enough.
God wasn't willing to be so grossly misunderstood. He took radical steps and a major move to put me in the place where we could get re-acquainted. Little by little He chipped away at my quest to be right which essentially kept Him at arm's length. I re-discovered Holy Spirit, who gave me a whole fresh perspective on God's Word. Sound biblical doctrine is important but it won't do you much good if you don't know the Author.
I'm grateful for the years of study, they weren't a waste. I'm extremely thankful for the Spirit behind the words in the Bible who is the source of life. I'm no longer looking to disengage, I'm having too much fun. The journey is exciting and fulfilling. I'm going for those 1 Corinthians 2:9 experiences. If I can see, hear or think it - it's too small to be God. There's so much more.
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