Our Spirit // Unstuck
Once, in high school, I was babysitting for a brother/sister toddler duo and their mom had asked that I make the kids pancakes for lunch. Sounds great – except for one thing: I had never made pancakes. And this was not a Bisquick house, y’all – they were the type that had avocados and steel cut oats around the place before it was cool. No easy box mix with a recipe on the back in sight. To complicate matters, this was pre-iPhone, so I could not easily google a recipe and go on with my life. I began silently freaking out and thinking through my options. Okay, pancakes have…flour, right? As I gathered ingredients, I spied the best part of the situation – their mom had set out a CAST IRON skillet for me to use. Y’all. Let’s go over this recipe for disaster:
- Never made pancakes before
- Cast iron skillet
- No idea how to use one of those
- No recipe
All aboard the hot mess express. As I tried to figure out what should and should not go into pancakes, the kids of course were beginning to starve. I’m sure their parents had made them breakfast like three hours earlier, but to hear their version, you’d think they had not been fed for approximately 87 years. “In the Arms of the Angels” began to play in the background. I had to figure something out before these kids resorted to eating their plastic play fruit.
So, I did what any overwhelmed 16-year-old with two starving children nipping at her heels would do: I called my mom. And even though she has a full time job teaching fourth graders who were no doubt nipping at her heels, she picked up. Because she always picks up – she’s my mom.
She walked me through the pancakes and even though I still burned them, and the last one got so glued to the cast iron that I think it might still be there, and the older angel baby gave me the shining endorsement of “These pancakes are worser than my mommy’s,” the kids ate their lunch and no one died. My mom saved the day, like she always does, but not because she knew the recipe for pancakes – it was because she was there when I needed her.
Our Father God is like this.
Spirituality can feel complicated, but it’s really just a fancy word for connecting with God. You probably already do this in some way. Prayer, reading and meditating on the Scriptures, praise and worship, even just taking a walk along a quiet trail – all of these can be spiritual things, but they are not the only ways to connect with God.
I think that, secretly, just about everything is spiritual. Probably even burning the pancakes. Our spirit was made for God and we are put together in a way that makes our soul cry out for Him. When we are not actively connecting with God, we might feel like something is missing, even if we can’t quite put our finger on what. I think part of what makes us feel stuck in our spirituality and our faith is that connecting with God can seem really complicated. Some people are taught that the only way God ever speaks to His people is through the Bible, while others think that God speaks through certain people elected to be His representatives, like the Pope in the Catholic church, or modern day apostles or prophets in the LDS church. Still other people think that God only speaks through men in the church. But anyone can connect with God, not just certain people, and while He does speak to us using the Bible, He also speaks in other ways.
To avoid confusion, let’s listen to Jesus.
In the ancient Hebrew temple, there was a special sectioned-off area called the Holy of Holies. This was said to be where God’s presence lived, as it housed the Ark of the Covenant, a unique container that held the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. Most people were not allowed inside this area – it was reserved for only the high priest, and he could only enter once a year to atone for the sins of the people.
“The Lord said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering…Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household…he shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people.'” – Leviticus 16:2-3, 6, 24, NASB
Even the high priest, Aaron, could not just go into the Holy of Holies whenever he wanted. He could only enter once a year to make sacrifices and offerings to the Lord so that He would forgive the people. If someone went inside the Holy of Holies other than for this purpose, they would die. There was a thick veil separating this area from the rest of the temple, signifying the separateness and holiness of God.
When Jesus arrived on the scene quite some time later, something interesting happened to that veil.
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” – Matthew 27:50-51, NASB
This verse is describing Jesus’ death on a cross, the method of execution the Romans preferred when administering the death penalty. When He died, the temple veil was mysteriously torn completely in half. Whaaaaat? How did that happen, and why?
The veil separating God from the people was torn in half as a beautiful message from a Father to His children: It’s okay, come closer.
For hundreds of years, Jewish practice was to acknowledge the holiness of God by sectioning Him off from the mess that is humanity. Don’t touch, don’t go in. We’re not worthy. But Jesus’ death paid for all our mistakes and removed all the roadblocks between the people and Himself. Imagine if the president removed all the security from the White House and sent the secret service home, and invited the entire country over for dinner. This is what God did for us on the cross.
We are His kids, after all. God tore the veil in two because He wanted to make sure we knew there were no barriers between us any longer. Jesus ripped it in half once and for all. We can feel free to barge into God’s office any time we need to speak to our Father, and be assured that He will make time for us. He always picks up when we call (even if it’s just about pancakes). Nothing is more important to Him than His children, and He loves having us around. You can see this by the way He lived His life and laid it down for us.
With a torn veil, we can hear from God in limitless ways, and I’m convinced He will speak any language to win our hearts. We no longer have to depend on the priest to tell us what God says – the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts directly. It is still important to learn from the Scriptures, and from others who have come before us and who are smarter than us, but that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit who lives in you is important, too. If you’ve lost touch with that voice, or maybe have never heard it, I invite you to pray with me right now. Don’t worry, it’s easy and low-pressure. We’re just talking to our Dad. Try this:
Father, I believe You have things to say to me and to show me in the Scriptures that will guide my life. I want to hear from You. Please speak to me in whatever way You choose. I’m listening.
Afterward, try setting a timer (even just for 1 minute) and just sit in the silence. Invite God to just come hang out with you in the small quiet space you just made in your heart. See what happens. Try reading a little Scripture and see if He has something to whisper to you. The veil is torn, and He is as close as your very breath. Don’t let anyone convince you that you aren’t spiritual enough or good enough to connect with God. None of us are, but He chooses to be with us anyway, because He is a good Father who loves us a whole awful lot.
May you hear His voice today.