Never have I ever doubted the existence of the spirit world.
I grew up hearing stories – stories of the spiritual reality, of the workings of the spiritual realm as it encountered the physical one. Most of these stories were centered around the Navajo and the Navajo Reservation.
You see, my grandmother on my dad’s side is a full-blooded Navajo. She grew up on the reservation and, after some time away at a Bible college, returned to serve as a translator for missionaries. My dad was born in Cuba, NM and spent several years of his life at a Navajo mission on the reservation.
Now, one thing you should know about the Navajo Reservation is that it is a place in which the veil between the spiritual world and the physical world is very thin.
Anyway, although I was raised miles away in a small Kansas town, I grew up hearing stories about the angelic and demonic workings of the spiritual world.
I heard (through some Navajo cousins) about Skinwalkers – Navajo witches who ran about the reservation dressed in animal skins and delivering curses for the medicine men.
I heard about the medicine men who would try to see Christians in the spirit so that they could curse them but weren’t able to because the Christians were masked by a cloud. These same medicine men soon became afraid of trying to curse the Christians because the curse would often bounce back onto them.
I heard stories of people who had been possessed and delivered, cursed and set free.
About neighbors (after my dad’s family had moved to Oregon) who would mess with a Ouija Board that would stop working when my dad and his family came over.
I never doubted the existence of the spiritual world.
However, given the stories I had heard, coupled with a hefty dose of every-book-Frank Perreti-published-in-the-90’s, I really didn’t want anything to do with it. The dark aspect of the spirit world sounded too scary.
Perhaps that is why I started collecting angels around the time I was ten years old. I don’t remember a conscious reason now for why I decided to start collecting them, but looking back, I think it may have had something to do with a desire to be physically reminded of the not-scary part of the spirit world. Perhaps the reason I became so fascinated with “angels-among-us” stories was that I was attempting to block out thoughts of the darker forces and focus instead on the forces of light and good.
I never doubted the existence of this world of angels and demons.
What I didn’t know was that I was a part of this world as well.
At the beginning of time, God created the spiritual *angels and the physical earth with all its physical creatures. And then, he did something new. He put both worlds into one creation – human beings. In so doing, God put together a wonderfully complicated, connected combination of mind, body, and spirit.
We are both spiritual and physical beings.
As soon as there is a human body, no matter how small, there is also a spirit.
Unlike the angels and demons, we have a physical body. Unlike the animals, we have a spirit. God created us in such a way that, as long as we are alive on this earth, our body and our spirit cannot and should not be separated. This means that our spiritual life impacts, and is impacted by, both our mind and our body.
The Spirit Impacts the Mind
There are two very distinct spiritual forces at work in this world. There is God’s spirit — the spirit of goodness and light, and there is Satan’s spirit – the spirit of darkness and evil.
Although God gave us each our own spirit, he did not give us a spirit that is able to operate independently within a spiritual vacuum. Instead, he gave us a spirit that will either connect to and operate out of his spirit or connect to and operate out of Satan’s spirit (sometimes referred to in scripture as the spirit of this world).
The spirit we connect ourselves to impacts our mind.
In connecting to God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit, we open our minds to receive the thoughts and feelings of God. These thoughts and feelings then influence our actions.
When we connect to Satan’s spirit, we open our minds to receive his thoughts and feelings instead. This influence (not control or possession) is also capable of impacting our actions.
**Note: I do not believe that connecting to one spirit or the other is a matter of salvation. Any person who is seeking to follow God will attest to moments in which they did not think or act in accordance to the character of God. Neither is this a matter of possession. It is simply a matter of moment-to-moment influence.
So, how do we control which spirit we are connecting to? Well, we choose it.
The Mind Impacts the Spirit
God gave us the ability to choose (mind work) which spirit we want to connect to.
In ***Colossians 3:2, God tells us to “set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
In Romans 12:2, we are urged to, “…not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Our mind chooses the direction of our spirit. What we choose to look at, focus on, and think about directly impacts which spirit we will connect to.
The Spirit Impacts the Body
I’ll get more into this in a later post, but in general, both the Bible and secular studies make a connection between the spirit and the body (the secular studies may refer to it as will, positive or negative thinking, stress and relaxation, etc). Both suggest that a God-directed spirit (will or positive outlook) can enable the body to go beyond its physical capabilities while a dark-directed spirit (negative outlook) can result in a weaker physical body.
The Body Impacts the Spirit
Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes we get physically worn down and exhausted. This physical wearing down can take a toll on our spirit and make it more difficult for us to think and perform in the way in which we desire. This connection is seen in scripture when the disciples are with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. After finding them asleep, Jesus, full of anguish, tells them to, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Our Spirits Impact Each Other
We all have a spirit. It is as inseparable from our life as our physical body. When we interact with other people, we are interacting with their spirits. This is why you meet some people who instantly make you uncomfortable and other people with whom you instantly feel at ease. Some people, like my husband John, have the ability to intuitively pick up on and feel within himself the feelings and spirits of others. I fictionalized and played with this idea in my short story, A Different Kind of Vision.
Relationship with our Spiritual God
Our relationship with our spiritual God is a full-soul relationship that involves our mind, body, and spirit. The nature of this relationship is described in Romans 12:1-2.
1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Our relationship with our spiritual God begins in the mind and spirit and is fulfilled in the body. When Jesus came, he showed us what this looks like. He showed how a relationship with God that began as a spiritual relationship found its fulfillment in the outworking of his physical, bodily obedience.
When God sent the Holy Spirit into us, he made it easier than ever for us to connect to him.
1 Corinthians 2:11-12 says,
11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.
It Isn’t Scary – It just Is…
After many years, I have finally realized something. The spiritual world isn’t some scary, mysterious place. It just is. It is an unseen part of our reality. As spiritual beings, we are a part of that world, but as physical beings, our involvement in it is of a limited nature. God didn’t create us to do battle or to meddle in the spirit world, but to live and operate with our spirit in the physical world. The battles of the spiritual realm belong to him and he is the one who fights for us.
I have never doubted the existence of the spiritual world, but I am now no longer afraid of it. It is an inseparable part of my existence and I am finally starting to learn what that means.
What About You?
What have your thoughts about or experiences with the spiritual world been? Let me know in the comments below!
*I didn’t mention demons here because I don’t believe God created them as demons. Rather, he created them as angels and then, after some of them followed Lucifer after his rebellion, they became known as fallen angels, or demons.
***All scripture is from the NASB