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Are You Linear or Spatial?

29 Jan

Have you ever read the Bible and thought history was just one big event after another with no breaks in between?  It can seem that way because of the way events are recorded.  The same thing happens when we watch television shows.  We can watch a sixty minute crime show and it appears major crimes are solved in very short time periods when in reality it might have taken weeks, months, or even years to crack the case.  Without realizing it, in our own lives we begin to operate on the same principle, expecting our problems to be fixed in short time periods, with little else happening in between.   We expect events to happen in succession, problems to be solved, and circumstances to improve on an accelerated timetable. 

We even apply this concept to our faith in Jesus Christ.  We expect if we “figure out” our issues, confess, and repent, all should be well within a day or two.  We expect if we have faith to move a mountain, it will be moved immediately and when it doesn’t we get edgy.  We expect if we agree with another person for something from God, He will do it for us on our time table and if He doesn’t we get annoyed.  We expect when we lay hands on the sick they will be made well.  But if it doesn’t happen instantly, we get irritated, doubt, and may even stop praying for people.  Just a side note here:  Did you know in Mark 16:18 when Jesus told us to lay hands on the sick they would recover?  There is a time period inherent in recovery.  When people have surgery today they are cut open, the procedure conducted, they are sewn or stapled up, eventually returning home to continue the recovery period.  They are healed but must spend time recovering.  Why is it when we lay hands on the sick and believe for healing and there isn’t an instant manifestation of full healing we conclude “it” didn’t work?  When we lay hands on the sick and Jesus touches them, the surgery is complete, they are healed at that moment, and then they enter a recovery period.  Because we unknowingly operate on the theory everything happens successively (things happening in an uninterrupted sequence) we have little patience or understanding for other things to occur in the interval from believing to seeing. 

One day my daughter was sharing about her science lesson concerning magnetism in which there was a time-line attached.  What intrigued her was the fact creation occurred around 4000 B.C. and the great flood along with God’s covenant with Noah and His people occurred about 2350 B.C.   These particular facts had little to do with the science lesson but it caused her to pause and think about what we read in the Bible in relation to time because she never knew there were 1,650 years between these two events since only six chapters separate them.  Many things must have occurred in that time period left unrecorded.  This led us into a discussion about how we read the Bible as though events occurred successively, even if we have foreknowledge this is not the case.    

As we discussed this idea involving our perception of “time” especially in connection with the Word of God, I suggested it is because we are linear people.  I was explaining how we often get caught in this mindset that all things happen along a straight line with continuous action, and it is difficult to think “outside” of this line.  My husband joined the conversation and asked what the opposite of linear would be.  I suggested “spatial” would be an appropriate antonym without knowing the in-depth meaning of either word.   I decided to give some prayer and study into this subject since I feel it might help us “accept” and “comprehend” God better if we could be spatial thinkers instead of linear. 

The dictionary definition for neither word refers to people or behaviors so you will need to use your imagination a bit and know I am taking liberty with the literal meanings.  The definition for linear most accurately reflecting what I am trying to communicate is “unimaginative, something developed sequentially from the obvious without in-depth understanding”.    A person with linear thinking would draw conclusions based on the obvious circumstances using no imagination or speculation that other factors were playing into or during the time from one event to another, basically just cause and effect. 

One antonym for linear is nonlinear, so we could surmise we would be talking about someone who does not predict outcomes of a present situation based on past factors or circumstances.  In other words, their thinking of possibilities is not limited by past events.   The word spatial is also an alternative to thinking linearly, because it means something relating to, occupying, or happening in space (not outer space).  There is a sense of freedom inherent in the word “spatial” allowing us to think outside of or off the line.   Therefore a person who thinks spatially can look at circumstances in life with an unlimited view, not moved or bound by past experiences, free to explore options without fear of failure.  There is an awareness many things happen all at the same time, even if we are unaware of specific details, much like between creation and the flood. 

When faced with situations, trials, decisions in life – do we tend to be linear or spatial people?  I believe most of us are linear, operating off a successive mindset, one event following the next with no interruptions.  We tend to live our lives like we read the Bible or watch a television show, on a time line of big events, choices and consequences, forgetting many factors affect and alter the next significant event.  Most people have made bad choices at some point and then tend to think they are always reaping what was sown.  This is linear thinking.  Though sowing and reaping is a biblical principle, limiting ourselves to this one bible truth in every area of life causes us to miss the bigger experiences in our lives. 

When we take a spatial approach to life and God, we see multiple things transpiring all at the same time. When we open our minds and spirits allowing Holy Spirit to penetrate, He shows us a portrait of life and we experience an enlarged capacity to imagine and anticipate what God is doing.  We will not be bound by past mistakes because we see the myriad of events influencing our present situation and the countless opportunities before us.  We read, believe, and apply God’s Word to our lives with no time limits, no premeditated outcomes, no manipulation or control.  We open ourselves completely to God, expecting Him to work in our lives.  Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  I think this is spatial faith.  It is the belief all things all work together all at the same time for good.  Rather than one thing at a time working together for good such as linear thinking would suggest, God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. 

May we find ourselves called, people who have purpose, and most importantly, individuals passionately in love with God.  Remember:  There are a mere six chapters between creation and the flood. There is much more going on in your life than what is recorded between chapters one through six.  Open up and let things work together for good and love God.  Think spatially!!!!!

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