The children of Israel in their history escaped the clutches of Pharaoh by the parting of the Red Sea, and it had little impact on their spiritual growth. It is a story told for thousands of years of Yahweh’s miraculously dividing of the sea where men, women, and children in bondage for four hundred years escape thru a dry patch of land after the waters mysteriously separate. On the other side, they look back and see their enemies swallowed up and destroyed.
The Red Sea narrative creates a hypothetical spiritual scenario where God will also deliver us from whatever bondage we struggle within our lives. In living out our Christianity, we sometimes assume if we have faith and pray right, and no matter the complexity of the problem God will supernaturally answer and deliver us in the same way. I call them airwave or overland miracles of deliverance with little effort on our part to escape the terrible consequences and afflictions we struggle with daily.
In the same way, we expect spiritual growth to be a comfortable one-two three-step formula easy to achieve. There is no magical way of believing and obtaining the loving character and presence of Jesus in our life without substantial self-control hardship and commitment. Spiritual growth is the discipline of facing what life throws at us and not fleeing or denying the devastating circumstances of our daily living. Learning to be mindful of God’s presence and love in the middle of horrific and tragic events in our life is something we all need as an anchor and focus point of our life.
To live mindfully as a Christian is the ability to focus and be aware of Christ’s presence no matter what is happening around us. It is a discipline rooted in contemplative practice and prayer from the time of the 4th and 5th-century church. There is no prescribed way of learning how to meditate on Christ and how to practice Christian meditation. Many Christian disciplines, however, have a common theme. It is a journey of the heart where our mind is transformed and united with the mind of Christ. Jesus prayed that we might become one as He and the Father are one. Throughout church history, the mystics experienced through meditation and contemplative prayer not just to know Christ intellectually in their heads but to experience the divine presence of Christ in their hearts.
The word “Mystical” in classical Christianity does not imply having visions, hearing God’s voice, out of the body experiences or even seeing miracles. The word mystical has to do with the inner transformation of our heart and mind in which we become aware that we are one and becoming one with Christ in everything we do.
We realize we are no longer separated from God but now live in union with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We live moment by moment with the awareness that the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the image and character of Christ. It is acting on the promises of God that not sometime in the future but right now contemplatively and mindfully we live one with God and all creation. The love of God precedes the beginning of our journey and is with us through the process of becoming Christlike in our lives to the very end. There is no Red Sea, dry land or airwave miracle that will produce that outcome.
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