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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Thursday, November 25

God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.
—Galatians 5:22


Our family recently got away for a few days at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. Early one morning I sat looking out across Kentucky Lake, an expanse of about 170,000 acres. Whether it’s the ocean or our neighborhood pond, I have always felt a certain wonder around water. While I was sitting at the lake, the Spirit spoke to me the words of Psalm 42: "Deep calls to deep. In the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me."

My imagination was caught up in the mystery of the waters—captured by its flow, its beauty and majesty, its gentleness, its power. The Spirit awakened me also to the flow of divine life within. The kingdom of God is coursing through my veins. Waves of divine love sweep over me. I felt freedom sitting there gazing out upon the waters. Its depths stirred the deep places within me where God dwells.

What is it about the water? Come to think of it, what is it about the sunrise and sunset, the view from the mountain summit, the endless farmland stretched out before me as I drive, the wooded valley where I hike, and the blanket of snow covering the town?

Maybe it’s not really the water, sun, mountain, land, valley, or snow at all. Maybe these deep feelings of peace, freedom, harmony, joy, and love are really God. Perhaps my natural surroundings have helped stimulate those feelings, but the feelings themselves are God alive within me.

Where do feelings come from? Outside of you or within you? My first inclination is to credit something or someone outside of me for creating feelings within me—a person, book, movie, song, life experience, or picturesque surroundings. But maybe those feelings come from deep within me as a response to the external person, thing, experience, or surroundings. What if God is always responding to the world in such a way but most of the time we don't tap in—we don't let our guard down and feel?

Jesus once said, “No one is good—except God alone.” It seems to follow then that every truly “good” feeling would have to originate from God. Sure, we are capable of producing all sorts of harmful feelings ourselves—lust, anger, greed, hate, egotism, selfishness. 

But the truly “good” feelings that we experience inside—joy, peace, love, freedom, hope, courage, compassion—these must originate from God. Many people strive, struggle and endeavor to “experience God.” When we feel these good feelings deep inside, we are.

God, let me recognize today that you are the one producing the truly good things I feel inside. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.