Spiritually misplaced is what I will call it…
The way I have been feeling for the last couple of months…it is like I am spiritually misplaced.
It is not the feeling of being lost; it is something else…
Feeling spiritually misplaced is a little like forgetting where you put your cell phone when you walked into the house.
You know what I mean?
You know the phone is there. It is still working – beeping, buzzing, chiming! But, you don’t know remember where you set it down.
You know that frustration?
That’s what I mean when I say I have felt spiritually misplaced. I know my faith is still there, working – beeping, buzzing, and chiming – but it feels like it is just out of reach. The calls are going unanswered because I can’t remember where I set the phone down!
Have you ever felt spiritually misplaced?
Have you ever felt like your faith was working – beeping, buzzing, and chiming – but it felt just out of reach? Have you ever felt misplaced because you can’t answer the calls?
My spiritual misplacement has had me searching, but I haven’t been searching for my faith, per se. I have come to realize I’ve been searching for something intrinsic to my faith…
I’ve been searching for inspiration.
I’ve been searching for the inspiration supplied by my faith.
I’ve been searching for the inspiration that gets me over doing life so that I can live life – and live it immersed in the abundant grace of God.
I’ve been searching for the inspiration that nurtures my spiritual growth – a growth away from the self and into the presence of God in Jesus Christ.
One of the most influential teachers from my time in divinity school was Dr. Ellen Davis. She is an Old Testament scholar. Her teaching and instruction was a blessing to my classmates and me.
She brought our attention to a verse in the Bible, which changed my life: “The Lord God placed the man in the garden of Eden to till it and to keep it.” – Genesis 2:15
She encouraged her students to consider the meaning of the words translated “till it” and “keep it.” She argued a compelling case for translating the verse to read: to serve it and to observe it. (For a closer examination of her argument, I would encourage you to read her book Scripture, Culture, Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible.)
Without getting into a full discussion about her argument, she influenced me to reconsider my view of creation! She encouraged me to reconsider the relationship God intended for humanity to have with the dirt. She influenced me to question God’s intent for God’s creation, the responsibility God entrusted to humanity, and the blessed ability to encounter the beauty of God’s presence in my life by valuing life around me.
To till it no longer meant to work the ground for my own delight, or to exhaust the earth of her resources! To till it meant to care for the dirt that nurtures and sustains life! To till it meant to relate to God by valuing, serving, and observing God’s creation.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? – Psalm 8:3-4
How does the dirt of the earth relate to my spiritual misplacement? How does the glory of God’s creation speak to my lack of inspiration?
In the midst of dealing with my misplacement, I decided to till it and keep it.
I started a garden.
My son and I went to the local feed and seed at the end of February and bought some seeds, a bag of plant mix, and a couple planting containers. I thought it would be a fun activity for him. He could learn about plants and eat the vegetables he grew.
We returned to the house and tried to figure out how to make plants grow, which is when I discovered I did not know what I was doing!
So, I did what any good millennial would do – I got on youtube and watched videos on germinating seeds, transplanting, and gardening for beginners!
Our initial afternoon activity became a daily opportunity for my son and me to explore and learn together.
We learned how to germinate seeds.
We learned how to transplant seedlings.
We learned how to start a garden, build a raised bed, and create row crops.
In the midst of our new adventure, my inspiration began to emerge from the dirt.
The emergence of inspiration within a garden is not surprising. There is a prayerful quality to considering and caring for the dirt, to watering and tending the plants, to tasting the sweetness of the fruit.
The garden is not the only place to discover the inspiration that nurtures spiritual growth. The location is not the issue; rather, one’s approach to faith is what matters. It is a matter of perspective. It is a matter of how you choose to see things and how to respond to situations in your life.
What can you do when you are feeling spiritually misplaced?
I don’t mean go start a garden (unless that appeals to you). Consider the meaning of “to till it and keep it” for you.
What are you tilling and keeping?
Where are your giving your time, energy, and spirit?
If you are feeling spiritually misplaced, maybe God is urging you to redirect your efforts. Maybe it is time to tillit…to serve and observe the things God values. Maybe it is time to give yourself to the thing or the person you otherwise overlook.
Maybe if you learn what it means for you to tillit, you might discover the emergence of the inspiration that nurtures your spiritual growth.