Does spiritual stuff start with a question or a feeling? You may think it’s a question because you start to sense that something is amiss in your life or you begin to question things that you’ve always thought were true. That seems intellectual. But what provoked the question? What prompted you to consider asking the question?
An experience. A feeling. A nudge.
I’ve come to realize that if spiritual things aren’t experienced first-hand they will probably never be anything more than an intellectual exercise. Yes, we need to be rational and thoughtful in our spirituality and never check our brains at the door in order to engage in religious stuff, but if we’re too intellectual we’ll miss the point. I could debate you for hours about the finer points of theology and in the end neither one of us would be any closer to God. Spiritual things are not irrational, they’re transrational – beyond and above reason.
I think we’ve mistakenly believed that if we could only understand more about Jesus, about God, about the Spirit, if we could only unlock the mystery of what happened at Easter 2000 years ago, that we’d ‘get’ God. What I’ve learned is that the brain is the wrong organ for the job! If your brain can ‘get’ God you don’t have God but something else. God is utter mystery. As soon as you think you’ve got it you’ve proven you’re mistaken.
Spirituality and faith cannot be learned, they have to be experienced. Caught, not taught. Sure, there’s plenty of room for learning and discovering, and exploring with an elder, or mentor, or even a preacher – but at its heart this stuff can’t be taught, only caught. A second-hand experience of God is no experience at all. It’s like falling in love. You can read all the love poems in the world and never have a clue about what “being in love” is really like. It has to be caught, not taught.