Sunday, November 16, 2003 0:39 AM CST
Inside OutBy: Gary DeVaul
Living life from the inside out - versus the outside in - is tuff stuff to do in a world that focuses on the material and external. But Jesus teaches that it's an imperative.
When my son Matthew was about four years old, I saw him come down stairs one morning wearing his sweater inside out. I remember saying, "Hey Matty, come here and let daddy fix your sweater." Matty couldn't pronounce the letter "R" so sweater, became sweatu. "What's wrong with my sweatu dad?" Well, I said, "You've got it on inside out Matty." When I tried to take it off and fix it, he began to tear up. "No daddy, this is the way I like it, can't you see it's beautiful?" So for once in my life I shut up, and listened, and let him wear his sweatu inside out all day. He was happy as a clam, and the neighbors thought I was nuts! Could it be?
Matthew's little Spirit made its choice based on an awareness of a certain template of beauty on the inside that he wanted to reflect on the outside. Today, Matthew is 30, he can pronounce the letter "R" and his awareness of the Spirit within has grown and developed. It sometimes displays itself in beautiful paintings that flow from his hand. Those paintings come from the inside out.
When Mark was recuperating in Ogunquit, Maine, a group of people he hadn't seen for sometime came to visit. Mark was upstairs in his room dressing. And of course, dressing takes Mark just twice as long today as it did prior to his accident. The guests were stewing downstairs. They were not quite sure how to greet him. They were understandably nervous. Do they hug him? What happens if they begin to cry? How would that make him feel? They certainly wouldn't want to laugh. The tension was building. We were standing together in the kitchen when he finally appeared. He looked wonderful in his freshly pressed pants and shirt. He took one passing glance at everyone in the room and said to me, "Gary, I'm all dressed up, but I can't go out like this. What have you done with my arm?" I said, "Oh, Mark, it's in the freezer, you'll have to go without it." The tension exploded in laughter. The hugs and kisses and tears were allowed to take their course, and all because Mark had disarmed (as he would put it) the room. The Spirit within him rushed to the rescue as it sensed the agony of others. That's an example of living life inside out.
Now, don't get crazy regarding what I'm about to write next. Just hold on. Hang in there and read: Mark is a Spirit Person. He's aware of the Spirit within and he lets it flow from the inside out. That's why we love him. Jesus was the ultimate Spirit Person and Him - we adore. Why? It's because you can see the face of God in Spirit People; the face we saw in Eden.
God's Spirit was bestowed on all of us at creation. In Gen. 2:7, God molds and makes Adam, who translated literally, means man or mankind. He makes Adam out of the dust of the earth. After He has fashioned him perfectly in His own image, He breathes the breath of life into Adam's nostrils, and in that instant - we are alive! But what makes mankind alive? God's Spirit! Do all human beings have God's Spirit within? Absolutely, well, all of the living ones, anyway! Remember, the words breath, wind, air, and spirit, are all the same word in Hebrew. And Adam wasn't animated and alive until God's very Spirit was present within him.
What makes a Spirit Person, a Spirit Person? It's the continuing progressive awareness that God is the Life Force within. To cast the point in concrete, check out Gen. 6:3. "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh..." When the flesh gives out, and it will, the Spirit of God lives on; it never gives out.
When Jesus' flesh crumbled on the cross, His last words were to give His Spirit - which was God's already - back to God. Jesus' awareness of the Spirit of God within was so highly developed that we can witness incarnation, God in the flesh, when we look upon Him. Surprisingly, nowhere in the gospels does Jesus ask to be worshiped. No, you look and see. Not once. But He does ask to be followed. He asks to be imitated. Jesus spent long hours in prayer and meditation. Why? He wanted to keep in touch with the powerful, creative, and dynamic Spirit within. He was constantly, consistently, developing His awareness and living His life from the inside out, not the outside in. Why do we worship Him? Because the Spirit within us rises up and adores the Spirit within Him. And in worship we are encouraged to develop that wonderful personal awareness of the Spirit within.
After the crash that made my buddy the man he is today, it was my task to call those closest to Mark and inform them of the accident and the amputation. It was the hardest call I've ever made. Why? Because I knew the level of devastation and grief that would follow, would match the love so many bear for him all over the world. And why is he loved? It is because he tries harder than most to develop his awareness of the Spirit within, and he does his best to live his life from the inside out. We recognize the face of God when we observe one living from the inside out and the Spirit within us rises up to revel and embrace its own.
The call I made that morning was to Jeremy. I heard the silence of disbelief on the line, and then the heart breaking timber of his sobs as his voice choked and cracked. I heard his deep shuttering breaths as he struggled to remain centered, so that he could fathom and respond with grace. It was a short call; its brevity all we two could bear.
During the call, we decided to have Jeremy contact John West who loves Mark and is well connected. John sent an email to a powerful list of Spirit People and literally thousands of you responded within moments. Why? Because the Spirit within you responds to one who lives his life inside out.
What does it mean to live from the inside out? It means that we are beginning to understand that in Christ we are all one. And it means that there is a growing awareness within which telegraphs the most important truth of all. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are Spirit People! How do Spirit People react when the call comes? Jeremy's last words to me on the phone that day were, "Do you need me?" I said, "Oh yes. Please come." Jeremy's reply: "I'll be there on the next flight..."
Spirit People. They know when to laugh, and they know when to cry. They often have wings and sometimes, sometimes they fly!
I'm out of here now. I have to go clean out the freezer.