I don’t think I was very old in the Lord before breathtaking things started happening. Prayers were answered in ways that sent chills down my spine. The Spirit provoked me to do ‘crazy’ things and incredible things happened. I would go to my Bible and say, “Lord I need a word on….”, open my Bible and find something staring back at me so pointed that it would make me cower. At times during worship I felt like I was on the edge of a trance and afraid He would make a spectacle of me. I felt His presence. Saw His presence through events. I had dreams. Demon possessed people fled from me holding their ears when I proclaimed the truth. I saw provision come when there was none to be found. I snuck Bibles into Communist countries without incident.
It was all so exhilarating…and real. It was exciting! I woke up in the morning wondering what I would encounter next.
I’m ashamed to say that at some point the rush of the experience had purpose in itself. My walk felt validated by what was outwardly happening. I inwardly looked forward to the next ‘miracle’ like experience. I liked my exciting life with God.
My focus subtly shifted from serving God to looking for His miracles and comforts. During this time, I thought that the closer I walked with Him the more consistent these amazing things would occur. If I lived ‘this’ way, God would do ‘that’.
God showed me much of the realities of the spiritual life as a newbie and I cherish each of those instances. But, as you know, only the wicked want to be entertained with the Vegas show of God. Only unbelievers need to see signs and miracles to know He is in their midst. Me, the new believer, so fresh out of the gates, had to learn that I was in the presence of God even when the bush never lit fire...I had to learn to know He was there by faith. I also needed to stop relying on experience as a way to escape the tediousness of the mundane.
So God taught me that.
And for years I didn’t like it. It felt cold. I feared I was straying, that I was back-sliding, that I was becoming luke-warm towards God. Heaven was quiet and I felt alone. Why was I abandoned? Why didn’t He do anything? How did I screw it up?
It wasn’t just for a few weeks, or months. He became quiet in my life….for a very, very, long time. I still knew His presence but it wasn’t adorned with things I could see, feel or sense. I knew it through faith. Much of my walk during this time was done through sheer conviction and determination of mind to follow. To believe in Him even if He appeared to fail me.
Must something stir us to experience it?
Of course not. We can experience both the magnificent sunset and the crazy, boring drive through parts of the U.S. Midwest. We experience both but one we enjoy, the other we do not. We naturally run after things that titillate us and make us feel alive. It doesn’t seem worth running after the mundane. Why bother with the cake when there is frosting to be had? Who chooses school over a field trip? Living out our faith though is often a mundane experience. It plods along and every day it grows quietly stronger.
I, like all of you, love the God-shivers.
Rejoice in those moments when God powerfully moves and you ‘see’ Him. Rejoice, but keep it from becoming your focus, or you will handicap your faith like I unwittingly did at first. Perseverance in faith is the only way we become strong and resilient. We must learn to stand in naked faith, without the props of experiences, and become comfortable with the mundane. When one has learned to walk in the quiet they also learn to hear God in the quiet.