Faith and Experience

Faith and Experience

A couple of weeks ago, I was coming home from work at a different time than usual, so I popped on my GPS to see what was the fastest way to get home. To my surprise, the GPS suggested a route that I didn’t like. It was out of the way, and I had had some bad traffic experiences on that route previously. Even though the GPS was suggesting that it was significantly faster to take the alternative route, I decided to just go ahead and take my normal route home. I chose past experience over the instruction of a device that was calculating all of the current traffic patterns and travel times. The result was not good for me. There was a wreck on my normal route, and it took me a very long time to get home.

As I sat there in traffic with nowhere to go, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me how this situation was a perfect metaphor for our walk with Him. Sometimes, our experience rubs up against God’s word (both written and spoken) in an uncomfortable way. God’s word is like the GPS of our spiritual walk. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows all the victories or defeats that lie ahead of every single path that we choose. By choosing our experience over His word, we miss out on God’s best for our lives.

For example, God’s word is very clear about His desire for us as believers to share the gospel. However, most of us who have tried to do that have experienced pain and persecution as a result. Therefore, we sometimes shy away from opportunities to share this amazing gospel with the world, because our experience tells us that it is going to hurt too much. What we fail to see, however, is that sharing the gospel is something that brings us the greatest joy, fulfillment and purpose. It is what we were all created to do. It makes us feel alive! When we shy away from sharing it out of fear, it brings about feelings of disappointment and a general lack of purpose. If we want God’s best for our lives, then His word has to hold more weight than our experience.

This is why I believe that the bible equates strong faith with faith like that of a child. Children have not yet been programmed by worldly experience. They have not yet experienced hurt and rejection, so they don’t expect hurt or rejection. They have not been lied to, so they have no reason to assume that someone might not be telling them the truth. When they are exposed to the bible for the first time, and they hear about Jesus and all of the miracles that He did, children aren’t full of all the “yeah, buts…” that we adults are. They simply believe it. The world would probably call this naïve, but the bible equates this with faith!

Personally, God has made me painfully aware of some of the “yeah, buts…” that have stalled my faith at times. Things like:

  • “Yeah, but He was Jesus. He was perfect and He was God. We can’t expect to do the things He did.”
  • “Yeah, but you are only human. It’s in your nature to sin. God doesn’t expect you to be perfect.”

Yet, I go to the bible and read:

  • “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12)
  • And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16: 17-18).
  • “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14)

Faith and Experience

When our experience brushes up against God’s word in an uncomfortable way, we have this tendency to make the word fit our experience rather than making the necessary changes so that our experience matches the word. Instead of putting our faith in God, we put our faith in our experience. That does not result in God’s best for us, or for anyone that we interact with.

My question for you today is simply this, “Is there any area of your life where you are molding God’s word to fit your experience, instead of letting His word mold and shape you to alter your experience?” I can think of a couple of things in my life right now that I need to repent of and submit before the Lord. I encourage you today to do the same. Instead of letting our experience dictate our faith, let’s start letting our faith dictate our experience! That is when we will truly experience the abundant life that He desires for all of us!

Written by Brian Maisch

I have a heart for setting people free from spiritual bondage and world oppression. I believe that the radical love of God manifested through his people can transform the world, and I believe that journey begins with us on our knees in a place of humble submission to God’s will.