“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I do not presume to know everything about God, or everything about the Bible, but I can say with absolute confidence that I have experienced Him. It is impossible to nail down any one way in which He comes or to fully explain exactly what it looks like when He does, but let me just say that when He comes…you know. His Presence is marked by peace, joy, hope, love, confidence, comfort, strength, purpose, and encouragement. There is no shame, no guilt, and no fear in His Presence, and if there is, He replaces it with the understanding that He fully sees you, knows you, and accepts you as the One who loved you enough to die for you. It feels like coming home.
Just as God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, He can speak to you today. On the other hand, just as God spoke to Elijah through a still small voice, He can speak to you today. He can speak audibly, and He can speak quietly, and He speaks in many different ways. Just like Moses and Elijah, you can experience Him and hear His voice in a way that will always line up with the truth of His Word, but that is personal to you and your current situation. The way you hear and experience God does not make you more or less spiritual than anyone else, but to expect to hear and experience Him as you seek Him – that’s what will take you deeper. We cannot be led by our fickle feelings, but when we have devoted our feelings to the Lord and we are desiring to experience and draw closer to Him in a genuine and biblical way, we can expect Him to come.
That being said, I just want to make it clear that:
Wanting to experience God is never wrong.
Being passionate about God, and about experiencing Him, is never wrong.
Wanting to surround yourself with people and be in Christian circles and churches that are passionate about God, and about experiencing Him, is never wrong.
I asked God to give me a clear metaphor of what experiencing Him is like, and this is what He spoke to me:
Experiencing God is like flying in an airplane.
You are flying the plane and using all of the given instruments in order to reach your destination. Your spiritual instruments look like praying and communicating your heart to the Lord, applying His Word to your life in faith, and worshiping Him genuinely with everything you have. It looks like simply being obedient in your relationship with Him. When you live in this way, despite your feelings, you are experiencing God and you are FLYING. There is so much to see, and so much revelation to receive! You are content in seeking God and drawing near with all of your strength, but guess what? The next thing you know, He comes in with the wind of His Spirit – with a force that comes up underneath you to support you, lift your wings, and take you higher than ever before! This is what you were MADE for!
When flying a plane, this is literally called “lift.” Lift happens when the plane begins to be pointed upward due to the incoming contact of rising air. This does not cause the plane to crash, or take the place of the instruments that the pilot is already using, but it actually lifts the plane up higher than it could ever reach with its own power!
Literally, this is what it looks like to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14)! However, James 4:8 also says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Never forget that our relationship with God is NOT, not will it ever be, a one-way relationship. When we begin to put into practice simple spiritual disciplines in order to draw near to God, He draws near to us with the wind of His Spirit and encounters us in ways that are deeper than just reading words on a page. Our God is alive and we can personally experience Him! Experiencing God through the power of His Spirit does not detract from our personal devotion time spent in His Word and in prayer, but it actually strengthens it due to the fact that the wind of the Holy Spirit comes to meet us where we are and lift us higher in Him, encouraging us to want to devote ourselves to pressing into Him even more! When we seek Him in His Word, we can expect to find Him in our daily experience. We can also expect that He will exceed our expectations by taking us to new levels in Him. 🙂
We were never intended to be in control of where God takes us and how He takes us there. We were always intended to surrender. If God wants to shift our paradigm of what He can do, and lift up our wings a little bit, let’s give Him free reign to do so. After all, He is the King, and this is His Kingdom, not the other way around.
So, let us be open to experiencing Him however He wants to come. Let us live our lives confidently by utilizing all of the spiritual disciplines we know of (praying, reading His Word, worshiping Him), but let us not think that this relationship solely rests on us! When we call out to God, He answers. In His kindness, He allows us to experience Him in ways that literally bring His Word to life by enabling us to apply it to our lives more deeply and more personally. We need not be afraid of experiencing God in new ways as it only takes us higher and causes us to draw closer to Him than ever before!
You will not crash when you fix your eyes on Him. You were made to fly higher. 🙂
(P.S. If you would like to go a little deeper into this topic, take some time to read my story about My Journey into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and may it encourage you!)