Posted 16 Feb 2011
On 05/01/2011 I wrote about Disappointment with God.
On 07/02/2011 I wrote about my experience of “greyness”.
I’ve finished reading a friend’s [Rob F] book entitled “The Lost Glory”
The book brought up all my frustrations about my experience of God. As I have reflected on my frustrations, I think I am realising that I am not frustrated with God Himself, it is more my experience of God, specifically my emotional reaction to God. I have read a number of books, on a wide range of Christian subjects & usually, at some point in the narrative, they mention people’s experiences with God. For example, in The Lost Glory, the author mentions being in church with some Korean Christians & experiencing a powerful move of God’s Holy Spirit. Literally, God arrived, in spirit, & the author, Koreans, & various others, where there, in the presence of God – wow! They all ended up on the floor, literally laughing & greatly enjoying the presence of God!
To be honest, when I read these various accounts of other people’s encounters with the Spirit of God, I feel sad, because I have not had a similar experience. I realise now that my frustration with God is more about my frustration that I have not experienced God in a similar, powerful move of His Holy Spirit. I have found myself imploring God to “just turn up!” I want Him to fill me with a sense of His presence & for me to be “lost” in His presence. I want to be able to “abandon” myself in worship of God.
But instead, my relationship with God is fairly intellectual. I read the Bible & very occasionally I get excited by what I read, as it seems to be “speaking” to me directly; sort of jumping off the page at me. More often than not though, I just read it, without any “quickening of my spirit.” I know that God has given me a full range of emotions & that it is acceptable to God for me to use both my mind (intellect) & my emotions (soul), along with my spirit, to interact with Him. I try not to merely interact with God in a purely intellectual way. But I do not get the massive rushes of excitement & a sense of “losing myself” or of God being present, with me, either on my own or at church. To be honest, in a group situation, I don’t even loose my own self-consciousness! I don’t seem able to abandon myself to simply worship the Lord.
You could argue that not everyone is destined to experience massive rushes of excitement or a sense of abandonment of self. It is possible that deep down, I would be scared by this kind of supernatural experience. Perhaps God knows that, & in his great wisdom, he has not provided me with this sort of experience, precisely because He doesn’t want to scare me! But equally, as “The Lost Glory” points out, it can be an issue of control. In that book (on page 77) it says, ‘It is notable that the Holy Spirit pinpoints “control” as one of the fundamental stumbling blocks that prevents God’s people from experiencing real intimacy with Him. We love to be in control. It makes us feel safe, in charge, and masters of own destiny – which of course we are not, or at least cannot afford to be if are going to experience all that God has for us.’
So perhaps it is out of fear (of losing control) that I stifle my emotional response to the presence of God?
You can also argue that the most important thing in Christianity is to experience the Truth: the truth that we can not save ourselves from our own sins, the truth of our need for Jesus to save us from those sins, the truth of conversion, the truth of the possibility of a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, in short, the truth of the entire Gospel message or the truth contained within the entire Holy Bible. All such truth is so vitally, critically important. It is the truth about Jesus Christ that transforms our lives & changes us, instantly, from people who condemn ourselves to eternal death in hell, into people pardoned from all our sins & re-directed towards heaven. Wow! All that comes from the truth about Jesus Christ & the Holy Bible. But my point is this: all this amazing, transformational change doesn’t necessarily have a feeling component – there is not necessarily an “experience”, as such, when we encounter this Truth. In fact, this most amazing, life-affirming, transformational truth may have no emotional aspect at all. As Freedom in Christ puts it: The truth is true, whether it feels true or not! or, to put that another way, the truth is so important, so dynamic, so “true” that even if it doesn’t elicit any feelings from you & me, it is still true.
I have found that often I have little or no feelings component to the most amazingly transforming aspects of my entire life. When something astounding & brilliant occurs to me, I often have no feelings at all. But I now realise, that even if this happens to me, the lack of feelings does not invalidate the experience. Or, to put that another way, the lack of strong feelings when something amazing happens, does not mean that the event is any less true or significant than it would have been if I did have a strong feelings component to the event.
I now realise that I have been believing that powerful, strong feelings would somehow validate any encounter with God. And therefore, without that strong feelings component I have felt my God-encounter has been somehow less than perfect, somehow less important, or invalid, because my emotions have been untouched by the event. My lack of strong emotional response when I encounter God has left me feeling that I have had some sort of emotion-less encounter; a feelings-less encounter, & therefore “merely” an intellectual encounter. But, in reality, a truth encounter with God may not generate an emotional response in us. Our emotions may not be able to accurately articulate what we feel! The truth is still the truth, regardless of whether or not it creates any emotional response in us. It is Truth that matters, & is more important than the feelings it may (or may not!) generate in us.
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