This week, I was sitting outside in the morning, enjoying the warmth of the sun's rays, the music of the birds singing and the chimes in the light breeze, the scent of the nearby bay trees while sipping a warm cup of coffee. I was reading again 'The Practice of the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence. As I was enjoying this blissful time, I was aware of a young family playing nearby. As the family sat down I overheard the mother asking the 5 year old girl about her 'senses' . "Do you remember what your 5 senses are? I'll give you a hint, we use our mouth for one of them…" "Eating?" "No, but close - the sense is taste - we taste with our mouth." And on the conversation went, with descriptions of each of the senses and the sensory organ required for the coordinating senses.
I was fascinated by the conversation partly because I have recently become keenly aware of one of my senses, the sense of sight. As with most things, sadly I have become more appreciative of this sense as it has been somewhat threatened. I am experiencing double vision at times and it has now become a concern of my neurologist. I have been referred to a neuro-ophthalmologist and an MRI of the brain has been ordered. I am not terribly concerned, but I confess that I have had some fear as I don't think I would make a very good blind person. I am thinking about something I have pretty much taken for granted my whole life.
Well, precisely while I was listening to the conversation about the senses, I was reading where Brother Lawrence describes his desire to fully be aware of God's presence at all times. He admits his challenges in doing so and rejoices at his discovery that the next thing to do after failing to be aware of God's presence, is to admit it and move on in the awareness of God's presence, not to wallow in self pity or even remorse, but just to get back in the stream. Brother Lawrence felt that he would be facing suffering, partly because of some physical weaknesses he had. I read, in the following passage in 'The Practice of the Presence of God":
"That he expected hereafter some great pain of body or mind; that the worst that could happen to him was, to lose that sense of God, which he had enjoyed so long; but that the goodness of God assured him He would not forsake him utterly, and that he would give him strength to bear whatever evil he permitted to happen to him;"
"That sense of God" -what an interesting term, thought, concept! He felt that if he lost all other senses, and yet had the sense of God, he would not fear. Wow! I need to have a greater appreciation of the sense of God. Possibly we all do. I thought of an interesting parallel in this. The Dr ordered first an MRI of the brain - the organ that interprets and processes what the eyes, the organ of vision itself sees and then a visit to the ophthalmologist to evaluate the eyes. You see, we can have all our sensory organs working properly and still not enjoy the use of them if the organ that processes that information is not functioning properly. We can of course also have a deficit in the sensory organ itself.
Physically, we are designed such that the at least two organs are required for each of the senses. That which collects information, if you will, and that which interprets, must both work for the experience of the sense.
In the spiritual world there is a parallel: all the Scriptures that lead us to consider the way in which we can experience the sense of God with our other senses - taste and see that the Lord is good Psalm 34:8 or but just as it is written, things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9. We will look in more detail at each of these, but here let us stop to ask, if we are not experiencing and enjoying daily the sense of God, is it due to the malfunctioning or absence of the right sensory organs or is it that we are not using the processing organ - the 'heart', soul or will - to translate what our senses are taking in?
Let's take a closer look at scripture… first, on sight. Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." John 20:29 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-for we walk by faith, not by sight- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:6-8 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.1 John 4:6
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen., 1 John 4:20 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. 3 John 1:11
It is so interesting the way God describes sight in the context of knowing and experiencing Him. Have you seen God? Apparently our living in the stream of obedience to Christ is evidence that we have seen God.
Taste: Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 119:10 How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103
The things of God are described as sweet and when we taste sweet things we naturally want more! Though it can be a problem in the physical world, I have yet to meet the child of God who has over-indulged on the things of God!
Hearing: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.Hebrews 1:1,2 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;John 10:27
God is speaking to us - all the time. He speaks through His son, through his word, through his creation and through our brothers and sisters. Are we listening? Do we hear? Speaking is not one of the senses, as apparently it requires no sense at all to speak…
Additional verses:1 Kings 19:11-13, Zephaniah 3:17, Genesis 3:8
Smell: But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Amazing words here - the sweet aroma of the knowledge of God - we are to be channels of this fragrance to God and to those who need to know him.
Touch: Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 1 Samuel 10:26, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; Acts 17:27
These two references speak to the way God works through touching us as a means of calling us to follow after him and to serve him and the second verse describes how we may use this sense of touch to 'grope' after him - As a blind person desperately seeking to find that which he needs above all else.
Additional verses: Isaiah 6:7, Jeremiah 1:9
What shall we do with all this? First, thank God for your senses, remembering those you know or have known or may never know who travel this world without them. Use your senses as God intended, to help you know him more - look for him, taste the goodness of the Lord, listen to his voice, let God touch you to serve him, enjoy the fragrance of Christ then - let others see Christ in you, share the word of God like honey, grope after God, follow with others as they hear Christ's still small voice, and be the fragrance of God from life to life to those who are perishing.
With Brother Lawrence then we can treasure the sense of God, the pleasure of his company, the absolute necessity of Christ above all else. And if we are not experiencing victory in this area we call also follow Brother Lawrence's example not to mourn and lament it long, but simply turn our attention back to God and use the spiritual senses He has given us to experience Him.