Many times I’ve heard stories of people experiencing God in really intimate ways, often prefaced with, “Normally I’m very skeptical, but…” before the speaker goes on to describe his or her experience. I, too, have used that phrase before describing an experience with God.
This month, that phrase really started to bother me.
Why do we like to preface our accounts of the wonders or intimacy of God with, “normally I’m very skeptical, but…”?
Is it so that we won’t be labelled crazy by our friends who aren't Christians, or who are conservative Christians?
This begs the question—which sounds more crazy: an intimate or supernatural encounter with the supernatural God; or someone claiming to believe in a supernatural God, but normally being very skeptical or surprised when, according to His nature, He does supernatural things?
Let us consider, for a minute, who God is. He is our Father.
In an earthly father-child relationship, when would we hear the words “normally I’m very skeptical…” coming out of the child’s mouth as a preface to a story of incredible intimacy or provision?
The only time I can think of this possibly happening is if the child has a dysfunctional relationship with his or her father—characterized by abuse, neglect, emotional distance, or desertion.1
How can we, in good conscience, allow such words to fall from our lips in relation to our Heavenly Father? How dare we impugn our Father’s reputation—the One who gave up everything for us, and continues to shower us with His love and blessing—in favour of our own? And for what? An approving nod from someone who, like us, places a higher value on human appearances than on our Heavenly Father who is so achingly beautiful and loving that our hearts threaten to burst when we look at Him.
How dare we? Shame on us.
Shame on me.
A few weeks ago, my sister asked me, “What is faith?“
“Faith is trusting and obeying,“ I said. “Trusting is the theoretical side of faith. Obeying is the practical. You need both to have a living faith. That’s why James criticizes Christians for only believing but not doing. Both are required.“