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In Between Times 17.3: Between Sleep and Awake: Paul’s Paradise


Issue 360

Just maybe you could be less serious

Life and work seem to consist of a blend of stress and pleasure, success and failure, enjoyment and struggle, and because the downside often focuses your mind and grabs your attention, you can forget the pleasure or lose it in the maze of busyness and tasks. Add to this the subtle sense – which gets attached to religious faith – that real progress is hard graft, commitment and sacrifice and pretty soon the upside has been compartmentalised completely.

This subtlety may not obliterate enjoyment – far from it. There are many at work who really enjoy their job – I hope you are one of them , but the syndrome I am describing concerns the inability you sometimes feel to connect the upside of life and work with your deeply held faith, and simply experience a period of guilt-free, unrestrained pleasure.

Paul of Tarsus was a workaholic, high-achieving, driven man, who had an impressive track record. He had established much and paid great personal costs in the process. One of his prides and joys was a totally mystical experience he had in which he fully admits he doesn’t know what state he was in – awake, sleep, in his body, out of his body – he simply doesn’t know. What he does know is that he was caught up to paradise where he saw and heard things so amazing that he couldn’t tell or describe them.

It was a moment of sheer enjoyment, pleasure and ecstasy given to him for his delight; a generous gift, showered on him, in order for him to experience the exuberance of the giver.

Sometimes a dream, vision or revelation has at its heart unconditional enjoyment. God decides to throw a spiritual party or open a treasure chest and let you wonder. There may be no other reason than that he wants you to have an awesome high, hallmarked by purity and freedom. Paradise – the Persian walled garden that Jesus promised to the dying thief – is the setting, and Paul is invited in.

The question arises again as to whether you might even be open to being caught up in such a way. Do you believe that God might even want you to have a moment of such fun? Sometimes we are way too serious and weighed down by seriousness. In between sleep and awake there can sometimes be such places and once experienced they nourish the soul for many years. Perhaps staying open to possibilities in a busy life is part of the secret.


2 Corinthians 12:1-6

1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know-God knows. 3And I know that this man-whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows- 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

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Series: In Between Times
Module: 7
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: delight, dream, enjoyment, joy, nour, relevation, surprise, vision

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Geoff Shattock

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