What if the sense of smell did not exist? After all, no one can hear, touch, or see the aroma of new ground coffee beans, or the misty balm of jasmine blooms. Without the sense of smell we would never even know that scents existed. In fact, were there rumors of such things, we would dismiss them as myths.
But what if a few people had the sense of smell? Many would label them liars or lunatics. And those who believed them would be scorned as simpletons.
This is the way it is with the things of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us, “The natural man,” the person who believes only what may be experienced with the five external senses, “cannot discern them. They are foolishness to him, because they can only be spiritually discerned.”
After completing her monumental analysis of the world’s great mystics, the brilliant British psychologist and philosopher Evelyn Underhill concluded, in her classic study Mysticism, that throughout history there have been “spiritual geniuses;” people who consistently spoke of a spiritual realm and an infinite, loving God who could only be perceived via an inner (supernatural) sense that the Bible calls the spirit.
Like great athletes, inspired musicians, or prolific inventors, Underhill concluded, certain people are born with a genius for the spiritual, the ability to tune out the clutter of “reality” in order to perceive the ultimate Reality.
And the rest of us? We may never be spiritual geniuses, but if we are willing to follow their lead, to tune in with the humble receivers we have, we can grow stronger in discerning the things of the spirit.
We may never be spiritual Michael Phelpses or Albert Einsteins, but we can draw nearer to our Creator. And that’s what God, like every parent, longs for, after all—our love. So tune in, learn to develop your spiritual discernment, and savor that love.
And you’ll catch more than just a whiff of the eternal.