I've been thinking a lot lately about intensity. It's a concept that I'm not sure I have an even keeled grasp on. Take for example sports. I'm not intensly focused on playing a lot of sports, but the times that I do play, I get intense. I hate losing, and I love winning. Sports make me intense. Ministry is another good example. Shawn and I pulled two all nighters working on a calendar and I pretty much up and died today at 4:30 p.m. because of it. Going to bed at 5 a.m. two days in a row and hopping up at 7:30 and 7:50 respectively is pretty intense. And it had an intense effect on me. All through the day, I was groggy and I really don't feel like I was me.
Let me give you an example: When noon rolled around, I kept answering the phone "Good morning." One person called three times in short proximity and noted that to me. It wasn't like I didn't know what I saw saying. For whatever reason, I just couldn't control myself until I really took a minute to focus and reprogram my brain. It was difficult to do that, because I was trying to address my mind and be conscious in dealing with a problem that didn't have its roots in a conscious process. Rather, it had its roots in my lack of sleep and lack of consciousness. It took more effort for me to do things with extra focus than it would have if I had simply gotten enough sleep.
As Christians, we find ourselves dealing with similar issues all the time. We want to show Christ, we want to be regenerated in His image, and we want to live like we're born again, but so often there is a disconnect somwhere in our lives. Some people say that disconnect happens when we don't read our Bibles. Yeah, I would agree. Some people say that disconnect happens when we don't pray. Yeah, I would agree. There is another step to make the analogy complete though.
Just like our spiritual life, sleep has multiple stages. There is the waking stage, in which we're sort of tense, and we lay around while sleep comes. This could really be comparable to the time in a person's spiritual life in which they're not sure exactly how to connect with God in prayer. Stage 1, or drowsiness, the next stage, is a state that people can go into and come out of without even realizing it. I'm reminded of fidgety students in a prayer circle that kind of zone in and out of prayer, and don't stick things out - when they leave, they sometimes say "nothing happened!" Well, you're right young fidgety one. Grasshopper say wait. Stage two is like stage one... except your muscles intermittantly go into periods of deep relaxation. A spiritual comparison would put stage two as the point you begin to "feel" the presence of God come over you, but you're not "bathed" in it.
Stages 3 and 4 see a person get into a deep sleep that is noted for it's continious rhythm. This is kind of neat - I see this as that place where we fall into a position where we can hear from God. We are relaxed, our minds are open, no distractions. Just a spiritual rhythm, a place of focus, and open field for God to communicate to us. But even at this point, we're not truly at the height of sleep. And it's the next stage, REM, that I want to look at in an upcoming blog. :)
Right now though, I'm gonna hit the hay with as much intensity as I can muster!