The sunrise this morning was beyond describing in words. It was layered in reds, yellows, oranges and it seemed to get prettier every time I closed my eyes to pray and re-opened them. Tommy woke up a little earlier than he normally does so he witnessed it with me. He said, “Wow!” I said, “God’s pretty amazing, isn’t He?”
I thought about how hard it is to capture moments like this in nature with a camera or a phone. The photos can be pretty, but the truth is, they never really do it justice. When we travelled to Georgia last year to see the foliage in the fall, I tried to capture pics to share with my friends on Facebook, but as hard as I tried, nothing could compare to experiencing it first hand.
It’s kind of like that with experiencing God. Do you know that you can experience God, and not just know Him? Yes, knowing God is key. It’s the first step in your relationship with Him, and you have to get to know God by spending time with Him in prayer and by reading and studying His Word. But, there is also an experiential relationship with our Creator that can be obtained and God wants us to get there with Him. Last night at the worship service in church, I had one of those experiences with God. And, once you have one, you never want it to end.
I had been fretting about something that day. When I say fretting, you know what I mean. I just sort of kept coming back around and dwelling on something negative yesterday. I would do what I knew to do and cast my cares on God, and fight the good fight of faith, and go about my day, but I wasn’t truly releasing to Him my negative emotions until almost the last song of the night was being sung. I have to admit, I think my heart was a little calloused when I walked in. I don’t even think I had any intention of experiencing the supernatural last night. I kind of showed up because it was the right thing to do. Too honest?
Then God showed me His heart. I had my hands raised and I was truly belting out the words to my favorite worship song, “So will I”, and finally towards the end of the song, when the song speaks of surrendering to God as Christ surrendered on the cross, my arms began to tremble, my body began to feel warm and God said, “Surrender Mo.” I could feel the tears run down my cheek. I silently said, “Yes Lord, I surrender.” But, I didn’t want the moment to end. I didn’t want the warmth to stop. I didn’t want the trembling to stop. I didn’t want the tears to stop rolling. I had found myself experiencing God last night, not just knowing His Word, not just obeying His commands, not just talking to Him and casting my cares. I could feel the God of the Universe inside of me. The Holy Spirit was supernaturally making Himself seen. Immediately, my insecurities and my negative thoughts were washed away and gone.
The Apostle Peter was one of the disciples who was great at pressing in to experience God. He wasn’t satisfied with second-hand faith. He wanted front row seats in the daily worship experience walking with Jesus. Jesus allowed Peter to walk on water towards Him. Peter couldn’t wait to get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus. When He gets close to Him and takes his eyes off a Jesus for one minute and looks at the waves, we all know Peter begins to sink. But, then the hand of God reaches down in the water, scoops up Peter and pulls him up and says, “Why did you doubt?” Well, when Peter and Jesus climb back into the boat, the disciples who had watched second hand said, “Surely this is the Son of God.” The disciples observed God. The disciples witnessed God. Peter experienced God. Peter wanted a first hand relationship with Him and Peter got it.
This happened over and over for Peter. There’s no doubt I think Jesus loved Peter’s boldness and reckless faith. I think Jesus took joy in showing Peter the supernatural, after all, Peter was one of the only three disciples allowed to witness the transfiguration. I love what Peter says right after. In Matthew 17:4 Peter says to Jesus, “It is good for us to be here…” He then offers to build Moses and Elijah a shelter. Peter doesn’t want the experience to end. That’s how it always is when we experience God.
After we experience the supernatural presence and power of our Lord, nothing else matters. Everything else suffers in comparison. Even our problems. They just seem to fade dim under the powerful glory that is released by The Holy Spirit at that very moment. All things seem to work together for good. All things seem to make sense. Just like Peter says, “It is good for us to be there.”
Have you experienced God lately? If not, may I encourage you to let go of the sides of the boat, like the other disciples did and grab onto Jesus’ hand like Peter did. There’s nothing like a first hand relationship with Him. There’s nothing like an experience. The real thing is so much better than the pictures.