Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Faith's Journey Into Experience

"No matter how much you know the Bible, no matter how much you discipline yourself, no matter how hard you try to serve and please God, if you are not properly related to the Spirit of God, the Christian life will not work for you. That's because the Christian life is not a ritual or a set of teachings but a relationship-a relationship with God through His Holy Spirit."
                                ~ Robert Heidler

Those words resonated within me as I can relate to them from an experiential perspective. They came from a book I recently started, Experiencing the Spirit, by Robert Heidler. In his book, Heidler, using Scripture as his guide, shows reasons why there is an absolute necessity for every believer to have an active and personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, the often overlooked third person of the Trinity. To experience the fullness of God's presence we must discover God within us, Who has dwelt within hearts since the moment we first believed.

When I first came to Christ it was a time of great joy and peace in my life.  Many fears I had experienced dissolved as I clung to the cross in trust and obedience, laying everything down and fixing my eyes on Jesus. I was taught the historical perspective of what Jesus came to do, and what he still does, in our lives. How he ministered to people, showing us the path to love, compassion and redemption. I accepted all of this with great fervor and faith. It seemed as if I ended up, over time, knowing much about Jesus and the Father, but very little about the Spirit other then what was mentioned in Scripture. And though the Spirit is mentioned in abundance within God's Word, I never drew a parallel between the Spirit of God being applicable in a tangible way in my faith or life, nor was taught any such notions. Never emphasized was the amazing source of peace and communion with God the Spirit offers us to be, if only we awaken to the reality of His presence. Practicing the presence of God within was something hardly mentioned, if it was mentioned even at all I cannot recall.

A little over a year ago I began to wrestle mightily with a sense of restlessness and dissatisfaction in my faith and walk with God. Theological questions began to consume my thoughts and a deep desire of peace that I couldn't find haunted me.  How could I feel so alone and yet be a child of God? Where was God and why couldn't I hear or sense Him in my time of need? Doubt began to infect my faith and I started reaching out to other philosophies to see if I could find peace by other means, so desperate I was to cling to something for comfort. God just wasn't cutting it.

This is why I could relate to the above passage from Heidler. There was a time when the Christian life was just not "working out" for me and I wasn't sure why. It was a dark time in my faith. A time when I felt tested and I felt like I was failing the test. It wasn't until, through a process of grappling at all the resources I could find, reading from various sources coming from a plethora of perspectives, that I came across the concept of practicing the presence of God. I came across the concept of finding Him in the present moment, of  contemplative prayer and this opened my heart and senses to the internal awareness of His presence.

When I felt the deep peace that surpasses all understanding that God offers all of us everything changed. My angst over theological questions was immediately lifted. A love poured through my heart that sparked an intense desire and thirst for His Word, which in turn, led to more amazing experiences of His infinite and compassionate presence. I came to know why Scripture refers to God's love as being better than life, a concept that used to baffle, even disturb my past cynical mind. When before, trials having made me bitter, separation from God having numbed me, I had read the Bible as more of a skeptic then a believer.  Now I read it as if they were the very words written by the lover of my soul. For they truly are!

Heidler's book introduces some concepts that are entirely new to me in what a believer in Christ is capable of doing through the power of God's Spirit within.  Perhaps some of you are a lot more knowledgeable about some of the topics the book presents than someone like me, who comes almost exclusively from an evangelical protestant perspective with the exception of what I've studied on my own over the past year, which has been primarily contemplative prayer.

Heidler's book doesn't really go into contemplative prayer but more into revealing through New Testament accounts of what the Spirit was capable of doing through believers-healing, impartation, deliverance, speaking in tongues and showing that these same manifestations of God's power are done today and  can be experienced and are applicable to any believer in Christ.

If any of you have ever wrestled with your faith and came out stronger at the end, I'd love to hear your experience and what helped you get through the dark period of your faith. If you are presently struggling with your faith it would be my honor and pleasure to pray for you. I've been there, it's not fun! Also, if any of you have any opinions/experiences on some of the topics that Hediler presents in his book, I'd love to know your thoughts. 

Comments are always appreciated! Thank you :)


  1. The journey for me was at first cerebral. I read the Bible, listened to sermons, and sought a deeper knowledge of God. Years later, I received more than water baptism: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was quite the adventure, and I’ve finally made a decision to finish my memoir on this experience – which I’ve been working on tonight. The Holy Spirit took me to a whole new level of understanding and spiritual maturity.

    What the contemplative journey has done is to bring about more intimacy with Christ, and teach me relationship over religion. Before I was more externally focused, whereas now I’m far more centered on the Person who is with me all the time.

  2. We had just bought our first home. There were a lot of curios kids from the neighborhood watching us move in, some offer to help unload the U-Haul trunk. We made friends with them and their parents. The place was the largest property in the area. The backyard was nine tenth of an acre. The weeds and grass was knee high. On a Saturday I enlisted the help of the kids to clean up the yard. I promise them a party if they would help. Things were going well when a little girl who had just come from a bible study class joined the work detail. She was preaching to the other kids about Jesus and god. The older kids including her brothers were teasing her about the thing she was saying. She came to me to make them stop and ask me if there was a god and to tell the other that god was not dead. She was crying. I called the kids together. And began to tell them they were wrong for what they doing and saying. The little girl was tapping my leg with a stick that we had been throwing for my dog. I took the stick and told them if just one of them could believe that god was alive and love them for one second this stick will grow, and with that I put the stick in a crack in the parched ground.
    We got back to work and cleaned up the yard. Later that evening I thought back at what I had said and started watching for the kid parents to come and give me a piece of the mine or a phone call. A week went by and not a word was said. I was looking out the window when I saw the girl and another child going into my back yard. I got up and went out to tell them my daughter was a sleep. Then I saw what they were doing. The girl was showing the others that the stick was growing. I had a hard time believing my eyes but it was growing it had green leaves spouting from it.
    I move away from there many years ago. I have been back there several times and now there is a tree. You can still see the teeth marks on the trunk from my dog. How this happen I don’t know but I do believe that there is a god, I don’t think I have a choice. When I said what I said I did not know or believe what I was doing or saying. i have come a long ways and know. there is no question that our soul is part of god and love is the heart of the soul and is the holy spirit. i don't know how to say it any clearer. it make know differences if you or any one call them self a christen Jew atheist. god is in them and you , me too some time we just have to shut up and listen. thank you and god bless

  3. Debra, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I would love to read your memoir when you are finished! I loved reading what how the contemplative experience has drawn you deeper into an inward relationship with Christ. I feel I can relate for I have found that it has given me an internal awareness of His presence. ~blessings

  4. Roy, thank you so much for taking the time to share that amazing story! It really speaks of how miracles can happen among us, even today. I thought miraculous events kind of ended for the most part in the OT times but I am hearing more and more amazing events that speak of defying the odds in miraculous ways...it's very inpiring and it speaks of a faithful and loving Father.

  5. Hi Jessica,

    I want to start out by saying that I love contemplative prayer and spending time with the Spirit, and I believe all the gifts of the Spirit are for today as much as they were for the apostles and prophets. God doesn't change. But that immutability of God is why I can only partially agree with the Heidler quote you've posted.

    Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart from me you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:21-23)

    Jesus also said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-16)

    Yes, true Christianity is about the relationship and power of the Holy Spirit, but it is also very much about a system of teachings, which the Spirit writes on our hearts, and if we love Jesus, we will keep them.

    Power without obedience leads to death just as surely as legalism without relationship.

    I pray that comes across clearly. Manifest Blog

  6. Very clearly! And I agree, there has to be a respectful balance between the two-doctrine and experience. They compliment eachother but one shouldn't overshadow the other. Both are essential. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.:)

  7. How could I feel so alone and yet be a child of God? --- For a month now, I've been wrestling with God... but this time, He didn't put me in my sickbed... He allowed me to cope in the dark...
    At first, there was so much resistance on my part... but then I realized that God is teaching me to be more fervent in faith and prayer---not so much relying on my feelings...

    Everything seemed to be a drag...waking up...sleeping...walking..eating... but in all this, I noticed that despite the lethargy, my heart is so alive. God keeps on sending me people asking for my assistance/ help (in the streets while I do my field work)...

    I was walking back to the office and I realized, "God, it was You through that stranger..."

    God is here... will continue this Jessica...I have to do field work again...

    loved this post and I love you...Thank you...

  8. I have always had immense faith in God and time and again I have been saved by him. What I lack in is trusting myself for that I need to look inward, to find myself and believe in myself. I am so glad you have become a believer from a skeptic. Loved it Jessica


  9. I have great faith in God and have many examples of answers to my prayers. I've reflected and journal so it's easier to see many connections, and how our choices and perceptions that caused us to make those choices can play a big part in how our lives manifest. I've realized in my journey that if I remain thankful even for trials I do not fully understand my trust in God helps my life improve even more than I envisioned. I try to live by the golden rule of treating others the way I want to be treated. I had to learn that this only works if you are filled with love (misery loves company is true to some degree and explains why some people gather in hate instead of love). I love the example Roy gave in the power of belief. It's amazing how magical our world really is.

  10. Jessica & Roy -

    Roy, I think you should do a blog about the little girl and the stick that grew in to a tree.

    Jessica, I never for a moment doubted God's existence. Sometimes I struggle with unanswered prayers. My prayers are always answered but rarely in the way that I think they should be answered. That's me trying to tell God that I know better than him, what is best for me. I should be very careful with that type of unfaithful thinking. Thank you for another great post. :)

  11. Charlie & Jessica:
    Ok, I'll start the same way Charlie did. Addressing this to two people:

    Love this line Charlie:
    My prayers are always answered but rarely in the way that I think they should be answered. That's me trying to tell God that I know better than him, what is best for me.

    I've wrestled w/this VERY thing myself, Charlie. But like you, I've NEVER once lost my faith. I have TOO much of it to loose. As I've said and written in my own blog several times, God gave me the BEST gift he could have when I incarnated this time around. He reached into my soul and poured out his faith into me. He knew I was going to need it to survive the many challenges of my infancy and youth.

    Many people who struggled as I did in my childhood would have given up, would have lost all faith.

    Not me!

    I grew stronger. Now that I have this excess of faith I can't keep it inside me. It is constantly spilling over, like a container that has too much liquid inside. I thank God that I've never gone through a prolonged loss of faith. It is a true blessing and a gift and one I'm constantly grateful for.

    Thank you, God!

    Be Happy! Be Well! Be Positive!
    Blessings to you.

  12. If you don't at times question your faith then I feel that your faith is not worth questioning. It is not always about questioning God but about how we relate to Him and where we are at in our journer.

    Elijah had just came down off Mt. Carmel and went into a deep depression. Moses looked into the burning bush and doubted the One who spoke from it.

    That is one reason that all the failures and trials of God's people are included in Scripture; to let us know that we are not alone and that those who came before also suffered doubts, fears, and failures but through it all God was faithful.

    Christianity is a religion, it does have rules and regulations, but it is a religion built upon a relationship with the Creator. We are not antinomian ( without law ) but rather we live and walk in the law of Christ. His Spirit living within us and leading us to know Him.

    God bless and have a wonderful weekend

  13. I see my faith as the ocean waves ebbing back and forth, sometimes my belief and relationship seems strong while other times it appears teetering. I strive to strengthen my bond with Christ and aim to do that everyday. Hopefully one day my relationship will be rock solid!!!!

  14. I have never followed any organized religion and never grew up in one. My religion has always been Nature, or the belief in metaphysics. I can not say that I have ever struggled with my faith. We are all connected and I believe that The Spirit Within is one and the same of the God of your understanding. If we are created in His image...then my Spirit is of God. If I know my own Spirit Within ..then I know the God of my Understanding. When I walk in and resonate with the whole there is no feeling like it. You can not explain it. I have had this happen more than once in my life. I knew I was not walking alone.

    I had a lady who was Catholic ask me once " Where do you get your Faith". I told her from Nature...I believe in the Metaphysical. She said " I hope to aspire to your Faith someday". I thought that was a very powerful statement for me to hear. For myself, I knew I was in the right place. I had touched another with my presence of just being who I am. This incident happened while I was caring for my partner in Paliative Care and he did not have long to live. My "Faith" never waivered and to this day it keeps on growing. It is easy to have Faith when everything is going well in your life. The true test of your Faith is when your life is at it's most difficult. It just carried me through the passing of my Father. It is as constant as breathing. It is the essence of my Spirit Within.

    Thank you Jessica for a thought provoking post.