Almost everything in the natural world we inhabit contains metaphors and insights that God can use to teach us about the invisible – where His Kingdom towers above and beyond anything we could comprehend or dream of. Jesus talked about the lilies of the field being clothed in splendor and turned it into a promise of God’s care and provision for us. He observed a sunset (they glow bright and orange over Galilee) and spoke about our ability to read weather patterns but not comprehend the ‘signs of the times’. He watched a widow place two pennies in the offering plate and used it as an illustration of generosity and an example of how the Father sees every detail and motive arising from our hearts. At a dinner party he observed guests vying for the best seats and used it as an opportunity to caution his listeners against only looking after their interests.
Following Jesus’ example I sat in the atrium of the hospital on Monday waiting for multiple tests as part of the annual medical check up for old men. “Take a number and wait..” for ‘medical imaging’ – used to be x-rays. “Take a number and wait”, for cardiac tests and collecting blood samples. “These are the tests we are doing,” the doctor informed me, “To ensure there’s no cancer present and your diet is healthy given your blood pressure maybe a little high.” Off I went clutching blue forms, white forms, and pink forms.
A great deal of effort, concern, finances, and expertise is expended to keep this aging body walking and breathing for another maybe twenty years. As I sat there with my number clutched between my fingers I couldn’t help ponder what it would be like to have similar tests for spiritual health. Instead of the BC Care Card the costs are covered by those who apply for a JC Care Card (”I’ve paid for your lifelong spiritual well being,” God the Father whispers). Regular tests to see how strong my spirit is beating, how attitudes and ‘sin’ are clogging the arteries, the impact of my daily diet, exercise in worship and praise. We could test for servant hearts, hope and passion, the level of forgiveness, and the amount of faith present. Then we get to sit down with an ‘expert’ and discuss the results and how we can continue to grow and prepare for life beyond this mortal flesh.
Airports trigger a similar response in me. Imagine sitting in the atrium or departure lounge holding your number and waiting to pass through death. “I’ve had a really healthy body most of my life and I’m extremely well educated.” “Thanks very much for that information sir, but right now it’s not relevant to where you’re going. We’re screening your Spirit,” the official informs me with an earnest expression. “Peter, can you come over here a minute, I’m struggling to pick up much.” Someone rushes over and peers into the screen. He looks at me puzzled, “What did you do to your Spirit? It’s hardly visible and it’s the most important part of you from here on.” I begin to panic, suddenly everything comes into focus, my life flashes before my eyes like people say it does. I hear the man’s voice who sat next to me on Monday awaiting heart monitoring saying, “I’m an atheist, science is discovering more every day about the universe… don’t believe in God.”
“What are you looking for?” I whisper because panic’s deflated my ability to shout. “Wait a minute,” says Peter, “I’ve enlarged the image, here’s the cross, not much bigger than a mustard seed but it’s enough,” he smiles. “We’re searching for evidence of faith, anything that indicates the presence of Jesus in you. By the look of it you’re needing a miracle of grace to make this trip.” I sigh with relief.
As the doctor says, “Please don’t leave what’s most important to the very last minute.”