I often read what most would consider weird books. Perhaps a better description would be boring books. To me there is something thrilling about finding an old bookstore or a little, out of the way, hole in the wall shop and searching for something written years ago that likely hasn't been read by anyone in decades. I've read book on a wide variety of topics that are usually all centered on some obscure and often forgotten point of world history. While I mostly read non-fiction I occasionally pick up something from the world of fiction to give myself a break from the bleakness of our world's history. Recently, while visiting a small bookshop in Canada I came across a re-print of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan of the Apes". Having watched the cartoon on multiple occasions with my one time toddlers I was familiar with the overarching theme but since I'd never read the book itself, I figured now was as good a time as any to give myself a mental break.
You're likely familiar with the story so I'll save you time and cut right to the words that jumped off the page to me as I was reading last week. Speaking of Tarzan's heightened ability to see, hear and sense his surroundings Burroughs writes,
"Man's survival does not hinge so greatly upon the perfection of his senses. His power to reason has relieved. them of many of their duties, and they have, to some extent, atrophied, as have the muscles which move the ears and scalp, merely from disuse."
As I read those words I was struck by the similarity between that idea and my own atrophied muscles. After a few weeks of summer camp, I can certainly identify with unused physical muscles but beyond that my mind went to the realm of spiritual muscles. How often do I allow my spiritual muscles to go unused because I choose to rely on my own reasoning in their place? At those times in my life when I have felt as though God were distant and had become non-communicative was it perhaps just my own inability to continue using those spiritual muscles.
Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 13:16-17 (NASB), "But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
Jesus tells them this in the midst of a crowd of onlookers who couldn't understand His parables because of their atrophied spiritual muscles. They desired to see and hear but they were unable. Listening to God, seeing His work around us, sensing His presence in our midst are spiritual muscles that must be worked and utilized. With time and practice it's these spiritual muscles that become toned and defined and afford us greater ability of use.
Tonight I'm asking myself the questions: How am I using my spiritual muscles? Have I replaced the muscles of seeing, hearing and sensing God's presence with my own human reasoning? Does my existence depend on the perfection of those spiritual muscles or have I carved out an existence for myself apart from God? Be encouraged and keep moving forward.