I grew up with the idea that God was, for the most part, a matter of the mind. That believing in Him meant agreeing with a list of historical and theological facts, and patterning one’s life according to the rules associated with those facts. There were many things to do, and not do, in order to legitimize one’s belief; and godly behavior was both the evidence of faith and the key to unlocking God’s blessings on your life. You may be like “duh, of course…that’s what believing in God is;” or you may be feeling something totally different.
Thinking & Feeling can be seen as opposing or complimentary forces.
In the church culture I was raised with, educated in, and ordained as, knowledge and wisdom were paramount. Emotions and experiences could not be trusted. Objective truth was sought after above all else, with a great deal of emphasis on knowing every nuance of scripture as the only true voice of God in the world. Of course, we had to believe in the concepts of experiencing God subjectively because it’s woven all throughout the Bible; but when it came to our real, true beliefs – the ones that actually defined our motivations & behaviors – we avoided and downplayed them as emotional fluff & fringe fantasies. We also avoided the scriptures that spoke about them, and developed theological defenses to hold them at bay.
You see where I’m going, don’t you?
It’s tragic to me that sometimes those of us who seem to the know the Bible best don’t act like it. Jesus’ most contentious critics were the ones knew the scriptures best…but in the end it seems that they really didn’t “know” them at all. To them, Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” The problem is that our hearts, our real true hearts, are often messy & corrupted & unstable…so it’s easier to just close that door and try to keep it separate. But it doesn’t work, does it?
God cannot be contained in the boxes we create for Him, nor does He keep silent when we hold our hands up beside our eyes so we don’t see certain of His attributes & gifts & desires. He is not willing to be limited to the seat of a distant Creator who is worshipped & admired from afar on Sunday, or content to remain silent & ignored Monday through Saturday as we go about our business. We may be adopted as sons & daughters of God, but unless we actually “walk with the Spirit” we can’t experience the results we seek (love, joy, peace, patience, etc…..read Galatians 5!)
The God of the Bible is not an old, tired hermit with a long beard sitting cross-legged saying wise things from a distant mountain. He is a lion and a lover. He is intensely relational, and desires to walk through all of life as your best friend. He is personal, at work in your daily life, and wants to talk with you all along the way. He is words and action. He is perfect wisdom but He is not bound to human logic. He is love in its most pure and powerful emotional intensity. He is not understandable, but He is knowable…and He is very, very good!
This is about CONTROL. Either you will limit God’s access to the cerebral places that are safe & therapeutic, or you will allow Him unfettered freedom to everything about you….and experience Him for who He really is and what He has for you.
In the past several years, I’ve been discovering new ways of experiencing God. Listening more than talking while I pray, recording words & phrases & pictures that come to mind as coming from Him. Trading-in habits that keep me from walking closely with Him, for better gifts in return. Noticing & believing & practicing scriptures about the supernatural that I had passed-over for decades. Allowing Him to invade my thoughts & attitudes & emotions & abilities – all the places inside me – in order to continue becoming more like the person He sees when He looks at me. I’m learning to give-up control…baby step by baby step.
He can be trusted.