This morning I was reading the story of someone’s experience of a God-encounter. In recounting her experience, it was clear that she had sensed God’s presence and His voice. As I read her story, I began to think about how I could make it my own. Kind of like spiritual plagiarism. It was not a deliberate thought process, but one that I slipped into without even realizing it. I became so engrossed in my own conjuring up of a God-encounter like hers, that I nearly missed her actual point in telling the story!
I firmly believe that there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to human behavior, so I’m guessing I’m not the only one who struggles with spiritual jealousy. It’s not like I don’t have my own God-encounters. I’ve experienced deep and meaningful encounters with my Father, as well as sweet and serendipitous flashes of His grace and mercy. Why do I think I need to have what He has chosen to share with someone else?
This realization initially tempted me towards self-condemnation. But as I confessed my spiritual jealousy and expressed my true desire to repent, I received the most amazing grace from Father-God! He showed me that this spiritual jealousy is rooted in a deep longing to know more of Him, to experience Him more acutely in every moment of my life. And Father went on to assure me that He himself planted that longing within my heart, so it is not a bad thing in and of itself. I’ve just been reaching and grasping for it, which is completely unnecessary. He has been giving it all along. The picture that came to my mind was of a baby grasping for a bottle that the mother was already guiding towards its hungry little mouth.
My spiritual jealousy is simply the shadow side of my spiritual hunger. And that spiritual hunger reminds me that I need to be attentive to how God moves and speaks and works in the moments of my life, so as not to create space for spiritual jealousy to rise up.
Spiritual attentiveness was, incidentally, the point of the story I read. I didn’t miss it after all! Rather, I actually experienced the meaning of her story in my very own God-encounter. Imagine that!