the truth about experiencing God [Part 1]
I'm pumped to be part of a blog tour at Overcome The Lie - an organization that "exists to empower a generation of women to overcome the lie because Jesus overcame the grave". You can check out their blog and see the week one and week two blog round ups or get connected via Twitter \\ Facebook \\ Instagram \\ Pinterest... Look at that. So many ways to connect. Incredible. Social media for the win. I am so glad to be part of what God is doing through the hearts of these girls! For my part, I drew from the session I taught at a retreat I was blessed to be part of a couple years ago - one that focused on encouraging women to connect with God and move past the hurts & hurdles that were keeping them from entering His presence with prayer and praise. We just inadvertently consume so many lies about what it means to BE with God, to experience His life and what that requires...and I want to address those. Because y'all - if you belong to Christ and are hidden in Him, then the very Spirit of the Living God indwells you. You can't GET any closer than that!
What does this phrase conjure in your mind? We may think of an old bible study, the first time we came to know Jesus Christ, a sanctifying season in our lives, a powerful time of worship & prayer. Perhaps you may wonder entirely what it means, because you’re not sure you’ve really “experienced” God. Or you may even reach beyond your current experiences and ponder the mystery that it happens at all: how is it that a holy, righteous, omniscient, powerful, eternal Divine Being somehow communes with humanity and we do not implode at the thought of it? He must be good…
We experience God in myriad ways, to be sure and temperamentally we may favor some experiences over others. For example, I experience God often in a beautifully written sentence or poem…so indulge me for a moment:
Some of us experience God in the beauty of an early morning run, when the sun is just pink on the horizon & the breeze is blowing. Some of us experience God in the midnight cries of our children and their afternoon laughter, their innocence. In other times we may experience God in the quiet prayer closets of our lives, where we hear His voice & know His heart… or in the loud, rocking, joyful praise of music proclaiming the goodness of Almighty God. Our hearts leap when we find Him in the perfect brush-strokes of an oil painting or the crescendo of a beautiful piece of music. We find rest in His presence in a quiet corner or rejoice in Him with the loud crash of the waves on the shore. We know and hear and experience God in so many ways and in so many places and our hearts are stirred incomprehensibly when we hear His voice and know His closeness.
There is a simple beauty in the spontaneous ways we each experience God. But there is a glorious knowing that comes from disciplining ourselves to experience Him through the gift of prayer. That is what I want us to focus in on…that because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have access to the Holy of Holies through the act of prayer. And sometimes it does look like the tugging of our hearts in any of those ways I just mentioned. But more often than not, it is the daily, grinding, “chore” of learning to speak with God and listen to His voice. So often, the enemy will sneak little whispers into our days...you're too busy...this isn't necessary...God probably isn't listening anyway...after this week, the ways YOU failed?, yeah I wouldn't talk to God if I were you...if He IS there, then He probably isn't very good, because look how your life is going... But hey. Those whispers? They aren't telling you the truth. You can commune with this mysterious God and His life in you is enough to turn from the lies and start pressing into His infinite love.
Let us explore this idea together, that we might, as the Lord said through Isaiah: “know and believe and understand” that I am He. Before me there was no God formed and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord and there is no savior besides Me.” [Isaiah 43:10-11].
For our purposes, I'm going to name our communion with God, our experiences with Him "prayer". Because prayer is all of those things I listed above and more. And I believe God wants to surpass our hopes in prayer. In the next post, we're going to confront our pre-conceived ideas of what it means to experience God. We can't hold tightly to our theological dictionaries if we want to live with Him, unto Him, because of Him. He is always at work and when we elevate our ideals and hopes and definitions above our willingness to hear and respond, we face disappointment and despair. When we want to commune with God, we have to lay down our expectations of what prayer is and how He responds – because He is far too big to be contained by our little ideas of prayer and worship.
So, in a sneaky turn of events, I'm asking you to stick around for a few more days to hear me out. We're going to keep engaging this idea and tearing down the lies. And I'm asking you to press through some of those roadblocks you may have to get to the heart of experiencing God through prayer.
Check out more on tearing down lies from contributors at OvercomeTheLie.org.