Journey with John
God speaks to us in so many amazing ways. I shouldn’t be surprised that the Almighty would choose to reveal a holy truth through a biology lesson. I was at a spiritual retreat. Susan Briehl, a Lutheran pastor, was our speaker. She was leading us through some significant images of prayer to aid our spiritual journey. A picture she presented was that of the chambered nautilus, which is an ocean mollusk, that begins life in a tiny shell. As it grows, it builds a larger chamber in which to dwell. Its whole life is a progression of movement from one room into a larger one accommodating new growth. Each stage of the mollusk’s life pushes it outward into a larger space. As the sea creature grows, it must leave each room behind, never to enter it again; yet, each chamber remains an ever-present part of its life. Rev. Briehl likened this wonder of creation to our spiritual maturing.
As children, we have a simple trust in God. Our faith chamber is small, but comfortable and secure. As we experience the world with all its grandeur and tragedy, our relationship with God must expand to befriend new understandings. We stumble into harsh discoveries of a world governed by hateful crime and the injustices of poverty and war. These facts force us out of our comfort into a new and larger room of faith where we are easily challenged to grow our picture of God. These inescapable moves are never easy, but oh so necessary for our growth. As we progress from one chamber to another, always growing, we continue to carry each room with us. We draw life from them, although we can never return to them. Our spiritual life is constant movement into larger rooms of understanding. Sometimes painful, often difficult, always necessary, we grow or die.
The chambered nautilus has also led me to a larger view of John 14:2 where Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself that where I am, you may be also….” The new thought for me is that the “Father’s house,” is my soul with many rooms. Whatever stage I’m growing into, Jesus goes before me to prepare the next chamber. He, then, returns to take me into the new place where he dwells with me. I find this to be a most liberating thought, one that make the difficult process of maturing and growing, one that is exciting, necessary, and welcome! I never would have guessed a biology lesson could teach me so much about the lovely design that is the human soul…. Isn’t God grand?!