I’ve been thinking about the idea of the “supernatural” in the Christian life. For a couple of months, I’ve been reading a steady diet of Watchman Nee, Malcolm Smith, and Norman Grubb. And they often speak of something much deeper than your average Christian sermon ever introduces to a congregation today. Those readings have reminded me of things I’ve read by preachers associated with the Keswick “Higher Life” movement like F.B. Meyer, A.B. Simpson, and Hudson Taylor.
There are a couple of themes that keep coming back to me in all of their writings. First, most have done extensive missionary work, often times writing some of their most poignant spiritual thoughts down far removed from the paradigm of the “Western church.” Second, they all write about something called the “exchanged life”: that the basic premise of the Christian walk is not found in appropriating a particular task or objective (“don’t do that, make sure you do this”) but rather to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you. In other words, we are not to “keep” the Ten Commandments – we are to lean into the transformation Jesus brings to us and he will keep the Ten Commandments through us by pouring his love into our hearts (Jer. 31:33-34, Rom. 5:5, Rom. 13:8-10, Gal. 5:13-18).
But what stands out to me most in their writings is their understanding of what it means to live a supernatural life. Many in the world today believe for something “supernatural” that we often take for granted – simply because they have no other choice. When I think “supernatural,” I usually think of some sort of miracle - something far beyond my own abilities or expectations. But after talking with a number of friends over the past month, believing for a miracle is relatively easy compared to believing God for the “supernatural” in other ways. For example (at the risk of sounding crude), if I pray for someone to receive healing for a terminal disease their recovery has little to do with me or my family. Or I can pray for someone to rise from the dead and if it doesn’t happen, the dead person is no worse off for it. It doesn’t affect my livelihood.
I’m finding that it’s much more difficult to be “supernatural” about the ordinary needs of life. The purchase of a home. Paying for new tires on a car. Relocation and job changes. Choosing a school system for our children. Walking through a divorce with grace and dignity. In any of these or thousands of other scenarios, the stakes are much higher. My family, finances, relationships, and well-being could suffer drastically. And if I choose to not believe in God’s “supernatural” ability to be involved in the details of my life, the result may be disastrous. Plus, there’s only one person to blame for those repercussions: me. I need (we all need) the same guidance in the personal details of our lives that I would need when praying for a miracle. That’s been my focus recently. I pray God gives you the same sense of spiritual “weight” to your decisions.