Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 5)

One thing I observed in those meetings [in Lakeland, Florida], I have observed ever since I’ve been a Christian. Namely, a large portion of the Christian population is seeking a fresh touch from God. They are seeking to experience His presence. 

Some, however, appear to be almost pathologically dependent upon trying to “feel” God’s presence. For these souls, “feeling” the presence of the Lord becomes a benchmark to measure their spiritual condition.

I spent most of my early Christian life drinking deeply from the wells of a particular movement that stressed the miraculous power of God. While I learned many valuable lessons in that movement, I also have a few reservations. One of them is that the propensity to seek “the felt-presence of God” in that movement is central and overwhelming.

I watched many Christians struggle with this quest to the point of concluding that something was wrong with them — that God loved them less — all because they weren’t “feeling” or “sensing” His presence on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I have known Christian women and men who were utterly devoted to the Lord, extremely gifted, spiritually insightful and fruitful. Yet in private, their confession was that they had never “felt” the presence of God.

I’ve also personally known Christians who were in dire spiritual straits. Some were living double lives. Yet they didn’t wince at their poor condition, because during the worship service or prayer times they regularly “felt” the presence of God.

This being said, I believe there’s a great deal of confusion over the matter of God’s presence. Part of it is rooted in semantics. Another part is rooted in bad theology…

The Semantics of God’s Presence

Some Christians have a way of overstating their experiences.Others understate them. Multiple people may experience the exact same phenomenon — whether it be a church meeting, a conference, a retreat, a convention, a particular manifestation of the Holy Spirit, or a shared encounter.

One person may describe it as “unbelievable!” … “incredible!” … “awesome!” … “beyond description!” Another may describe it as “refreshing” …”enjoyable”… “encouraging”  … “delightful.” Still another may describe it as “good” … “fine” … “a blessing.”

Point: People often use very different vocabulary to express the exact same thing. For instance, Watchman Nee used a unique phrase when he referred to his fellowship with the Lord. He called it “touching the Lord.” Others use the phrase “sweet communion.” Others use “divine encounter.” Others use less phenomenological phrases.

To describe fixing one’s heart upon the Lord, some people use the phrase “turning to the Lord.” Others use the word “gazing.” Others say “beholding” or “looking into the face of God.” Still others say “contemplating,” “centering,” “abiding,” or “partaking.” Others describe it as “meditating.” By and large, it’s semantics.

I’ve observed this phenomenon all my Christian life. People express the same experiences differently. This is due to many varied factors, some of which are the person’s temperament, the specific vocabulary of one’s religious tradition, or a specific “effect” they wish o have on those who hear them testify. (Sometimes this isn’t so well motivated.)

(Revise Us Again: Living from a Renewed Christian Script by Frank Viola, Published by David C. Cook, 2010, Chapter 6)

I recommend Frank Viola’s Revise Us Again. It’s a great book.

(Continued in Part 6…the full series to date can be read here.)


Filed under Christianity, Church, Gifts of the Spirit, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Presence of God, Prophecy, spiritual warfare

4 responses to “Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 5)

  1. Thank you, Mr. Larry. Now I have another book to get. :). I too have gotten caught up in feeling His presence, so this has been helpful ! God bless you!

  2. It is possible that my yellow is your blue. How would we determine that? How would we resolve it if we determined it?

    And, for that matter, is this phenom only with regard to the presence of God? How about my marriage experience(s)?

    The communication model, when you look at it closely, actually makes the idea of communication practically miraculous. No one in Speech 101 class ever actually says this; I don’t know why not. But there is so much static in the communication atmosphere that it is a wonder any real communication ever actually takes place! And I am sure that it is rarely as precise as it seems, but there can hardly be doubt that it is successfully achieved with regularity. After all, we all manage to drive on the right side of the road – for the most part.

    It is a strange phenom. And I am inclined to see exactly what you are saying about it. (Or so I think… Yellow???)

  3. Debbie,

    I added Frank Viola’s writing to give balance to my article. He’s a gifted teacher and always make me think. And yes, I have always been an avid seeker of His presence. God bless you.

  4. Agent X,

    You certainly are my yellow or any different color, but that’s what makes the body of Christ interesting. But communication has always been a problem for believers because we speak the language of our stream of Christianity and do not understand the other ones.

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