A while ago I picked up a book about communicating with your spirit guides. I’m curious about how other people pursue their spiritual lives. I learned that some people leave little bits of food out as offerings for the kitchen and garden fairies. I learned that as the author meditates, she imagines herself crossing a bridge into a beautiful meadow. In that meadow she has constructed the house of her dreams. It might be simple or it might be elaborate. It contains whatever furnishings her heart desires.
There was also a section about communicating with angels. Turns out that there are lots of classes of angels, each of which has certain jobs (like healing, or bringing wisdom). Each class corresponds to a certain color and gemstone. One of the themes of this section was that angels are there for our benefit. According to the author, they are delighted to help us in our lives, so we should be specific and ask big.
I’m currently reading another book on angels for my D.Min class on death and the afterlife (No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus by Susan R. Garrett). I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s a look at what the Bible says about angels, what anceint cultures said about angels, and what contemporary culture says about angels. And then the real point — what does all this angel talk have to do with Jesus?
Dr. Garrett draws the contrast on page 36:
“The self-help angels say: BE SPECIFIC AND ASK BIG. But Jesus says of Paul: “I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16). To us Jesus says: “Whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). When we take up the cross we commit everything we have and are to the quest for God and God’s righteousness. The self-help angels serve individual wants and desires, and make no demands. They urge us to ask for their aid in getting what we think we require. But the crucified and risen Jesus heals us by reordering our desires. He brings to the surface the “desire that lives beneath all desires and that only God can satisfy.” This one desire, which overwhelms all others, is the desire for God — what Paul calls “the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Christ fills our mind and heart with this desire until every other desire pales by comparison. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45). So too we who would follow Jesus “sell all that we have.” We exercise control over what we own. When we “sell all,” we relinquish that control. We say, “Jesus, this property, this family, this career, this life are no longer mine. They are yours.” And we have made a good exchange. We have purchased to pearl of great price.”
What does it mean to be healed? What does it mean to get our heart’s desire? For whom do we live our life? Do we live for our own benefit? Do we live for the well-being of others? Are those exclusive of each other? Whose mansion do I want to live in?
Jesus is about transforming lives. Yours and mine. So I’ll buy that pearl. I think Jesus will do us right.