As we read Luke 11:24-26, we thought about the concept of strip mining. You may wonder what strip mining has to do with spirituality, but it really makes an interesting metaphor. Strip mining is a type of mining in which soil and rock on the surface are removed and the mineral deposits below are exposed. It is the opposite of underground mining, in which the overlying rock and soil are left in place, and the mineral removed through shafts or tunnels.
Unless the surface is restored, strip mining can leave behind large areas of infertile wasteland. What was once the underlying soil and rock becomes what the industry calls the new overburden. Nothing grows on it.
In terms of our spiritual growth, if we ‘strip mine’ self-defeating thoughts, attitudes, habits, and behaviors off the surface of our life to get at our underlying spiritual core, but neglect to fill our consciousness with truth principles and practices – we create a new overburden of worldly thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that soil our consciousness.
That’s what the story in Luke 11:24-26 means. Here’s the passage, from the New International Version:
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.
In other words, when we cleanse (strip mine) our house (our consciousness) of error, but fail to replace error with Truth principles or daily spiritual practices, we create a void in awareness (the house is swept clean).
26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself (that is the 7 deadly sins), and they go in and live there. (That is, false beliefs and habits will return) And the final condition of that person is worse than before.” (Our bad habits become even more pronounced).
We want you to remember this story from Luke’s Gospel when you tackle this prescription, entitled Spiritual Junk Pile Management. Here’s how this prescription works. Write at the top of a postcard or Post It Note the following statement: The most demeaning, annoying, and humiliating self-imposed rules, personal habits, assumptions, inclinations, addictions, or beliefs I have allowed to block my greater good are …
Write ‘self-imposed rules’ at the top of a postcard or Post It Note, then write ‘personal habits’ at the top of another; and ‘assumptions’ at the top … (you get the picture).
Spend the next 30 to 45 minutes conducting a no-nonsense self-assessment by listing as many of those demeaning and humiliating annoyances as you can on each card. If you have to use a second card or Post It Note for each category.
At the end of the time you have allotted leave the postcards or Post It Notes on the table or desktop where you’ve been working. During the rest of the day add to the lists as you think of annoyances that fit the categories. The collection of demeaning and humiliating annoyances is your ‘junk pile.’
Allow the ‘junk pile’ to simmer over night. In the morning, after your second cup of coffee or tea, sit in front of your junk pile with a sheet of paper (one for each postcard or Post It Note) and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is it about these annoyances that has kept me attached to them for so long?
- How do they interfere with my spiritual growth and human happiness?
- How have they blocked my greater good?
- Why have I allowed myself to be held hostage by them?
Record your answers on the sheet of paper.
Select one demeaning or humiliating annoyance from each postcard or Post It Note. Do what you need to do to eliminate each of the initial set of annoyances. Once you’ve eliminated the initial set of annoyances select the second set of annoyances and repeat the process.
Continue to downsize the junk pile until you have eliminated all of the annoyances. (Yes, this is quite a process. So, you’ll want to get started as soon as possible).
Your spiritual growth and human happiness will rise exponentially every time you eliminate an annoyance. Each annoyance represents a layer of crust that keeps your inner light from shinning. It’s a manifestation of the negativity bias that needs to go.
Each time you lift a layer you will inch your way a little bit closer to aligning your human self with your Christ Self. The better you get at ‘junk pile’ management the clearer your path will be toward letting your Christ Light shine.About the authors: In addition to their work with The Metaphysical Website, Revs. Drs. Bil and Cher Holton are co-ministers of a growing church in Durham, NC. They are prolific authors, dynamic speakers, and master facilitators. Learn more by visiting them at www.TheMetaphysicalWebsite.com