Please read part one first. This post and the previous post are also available as a podcast: https://anchor.fm/teague-mckamey/episodes/Direct-Experience-of-God-e1ncnna
In my last post, I gave some history about what has contributed to current beliefs about whether God can be experienced directly. I mentioned I have had direct experiences of God but don’t talk about it a lot. That is what I’ll discuss in this post, as well as why I’m reticent about sharing spiritual experiences I have.
God speaks to me all the time (not audibly but in my spirit). I pray in tongues. God has enabled me to interpret tongues and dreams. God gives me prophetic words in church. By “prophetic words” I mean the Spirit gives me an urgency to speak and an impression of words. As I speak, God gives more words and a spontaneous message that I didn’t prepare in advance. I’ve been instantly, physically healed more than once and witnessed others who have been healed. A few times, God has given me knowledge of a person, situation, or of the future that I would have no other way of knowing. This isn’t an exhaustive list of ways I’ve experienced God or of the supernatural manifestations I’ve witnessed. It’s just a few I’m sharing for the purposes of this topic.
So why do I avoid talking about all this? The history I sketched out in my last post is part of the reason; depending on who’s in the room (so to speak), the discussion of experiencing God can be divisive. I have no wish to be divisive. I also don’t want anyone who doesn’t realize they’ve experienced God directly to judge their relationship with God by mine. If you noticed, I said “anyone who doesn’t realize they’ve experienced God” because I believe everyone has whether they know it or not. During some of my early experiences of God, I realized I had similar experiences before. Much of this conversation, I believe, is really a matter of what we acknowledge or are aware of in our experience.
Above all, I believe Christ should be the all-consuming focus of the church, and I don’t want to detract from that focus by relating my experiences. Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 9 are always in the back of my mind: “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). Paul is here talking about meeting people where they’re at and tailoring spiritual discussions to their needs. Much of sharing Christ is seed-planting, relationship building, and sharing only what a person can accept at the right time. If talking about my experience of God isn’t helpful, it’s best left unsaid.
But lately, I find myself wondering if I should be more open about my direct experience of God. Scripture says God uses signs to confirm His word (Mark 16:20). My early view of Christianity was that God wasn’t real; no one experienced Him; it was all just a story we started telling ourselves. This is why I left the church for a time. I couldn’t understand devotion to something that wasn’t real.
Why should anyone believe in a God that essentially has nothing to do with us? Deism is a view of God that views Him as a clock maker. That is, He set everything up to run on its own and started it. Once the gears of the universe started turning, there was no further need for Him to be involved. Some Christian belief is just like this. Jesus came and died on the cross to deal with sin and after that there’s really no need for God to do anything. Everything we need to know is in our manual (the Bible). But as I observed in my last post, it is impossible to read the Bible without realizing that the authors expected to experience God directly and did. So if the Bible tells me who God is and how He operates, my expectation should be no different than the authors’.
All this to say, if God uses signs and direct experiences to confirm His word, it might be important for me to share my own spiritual experiences so that people know this isn’t just a story. God is real, and He is personally involved with each of us.