The cold, hard truth is that many, if not all, of what we consider to be the most significant events in our personal faith journeys are surprisingly unoriginal and mind-numbingly textbook. It’s like making a joke about somebody’s outfit, only to realize you were the seventh person to do so today. Of course, many will disagree. Great landmarks of spiritual progress might come to mind. Unprecedented victories in the areas of redemption or restoration. Soft, quiet moments, where something just clicks. All great. But they all share a single, common thread—we’ve memorialized them.
These precious displays of God’s kindness or goodness or grace become recipes in a cookbook. Alongside all the ingredients necessary to concoct them again and again. And we’re all eating the same dish. We’ve become so obsessed with the idea of the last night at camp, or the profound cup of coffee, or the time Judah Smith came to our church, that we are literally enslaving ourselves to event-based spirituality. I remember wrestling with this problem at as early as thirteen-years-old. Why can’t I replicate the summer camp feeling all year long? It almost became a form of idolatry for me.
Don’t get me wrong, landmarks are wonderful. Birthdays are important. Holidays are great for celebration and remembrance, but what kind of sad, wretched creatures would we be if we couldn’t function in-between? “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?” How can we swipe through our friend’s Instagram feed while they’re sitting right next to us on the rollercoaster? As Penny Lane says in Almost Famous, “It’s all happening!” But we don’t see it. We’ve chronicled our significant events into a new kind of iconography. We’ve traded in our gold crosses and sacred stones and prayer cloths for a different sort of holy relic—instances of spiritual encounter, rather than constant communion.
Question: If we don’t recognize the Holy Spirit in our daily lives, do we deserve to find Him at a conference?