Friday, June 6, 2014

Truth and Experience

70 years ago it was D-Day. June 6th, 1944.

Picture by Colossal taken in 2013 to remember the 9,000
fallen soldiers on Normandy's Beach
Today, I was listening to a gentleman on the radio talk through the events surrounding the soldiers as they stormed Normandy Beach. As Europe had been all but overtaken by the Axis powers, these brave men knew that evil needed to be pushed back. Their sacrifice and courage was immeasurable! Just imagine how different history would have played out if there wouldn't have been a D-Day. It's important to remember. There are fewer and fewer of these heroes left to remind us of their sacrifice. I wonder, when they are gone, will this part of history just fade away and turn into a watered-down, three paragraph summary only for school textbooks and chapter tests? It's these men's experience, their witness of the atrocities that keep it from becoming mere historical fact. Their stories are some of the most heart-wrenching I've ever heard. I'm moved.

Lately, I've heard more and more discussion about whether or not experiences in life, especially in regards to our relationship to God, matter or if truth is the only thing that we are to look at. Truth is...truth is paramount! But I'm going to go on record saying that experience is not unimportant though. 

Experience matters, but it's not the determiner of what's true. 
Experience without truth is unreliable and dangerous.
Experience is not truth. 
BUT...Experience can express truth like nothing else! 

I've read a fair amount about D-Day over the years, yet no historical summary of the storming of Normandy ever compelled me like the personal stories of the men who actually lived it. The truth stands. There was a definite change in history on June 6th, 1944. That's a proven fact!

So WHY is the experiential account important?

Experience makes it personal. Experience is what tells of a deeply individual account of the facts. 

So, here comes my rant. People in the Christian community are getting things all mixed up! There are those who say that their experience is what determines whether or not they've got a relationship with God. Some go as far as to say if you haven't "experienced" a checklist of things (e.i. speaking in tongues, visions, dreams, hearing an audible voice) you must not be saved. We can discern that this isn't true because it's not scriptural. Therefore, if we believe in experience alone, then we'll be filled with doubt every time we "feel" like we are missing that special "feeling".  But then there's the other camp that says you will not experience anything that matters, so keep your faith to truth alone (e.i. read your bible, read your bible, read your bible, and yeah, you got it, read your bible.)  Jesus said he is the Truth. So obviously truth matters!!! But if truth is the only thing that matters, why do we as Christians say that what makes us different from religion is "a personal relationship with Jesus?" Let's remember, the pharisees had truckloads of truth and totally missed the personal connection with Jesus!

After giving our life to Christ, we will experience many things with Him because it's personal.

 Personal = Intimate 

Before giving my life to Christ in junior high, I heard many people share their "testimonies." Those stories were chalked full of truths and personal experiences. Without a doubt, God used the truth I read in the Bible to draw me to himself. But it was people's personal stories that moved me. Isn't that why we "share our testimonies" is because of it's power to impact others?

Think about the word testify. It's a legal term. But in order for it to be valid, it must be based on truth and it must be that person's own experience. If someone tries to testify without the genuine form of both truth and personal experience it'll be thrown out of court. If it's not truth it's a lie. If it's not your own experience it's hearsay and unverifiable.  

The beauty of this all is that God's truth will never just disappear into a book somewhere and merely become a watered-down account of insignificant facts, but truth will continue to be paired with people's personal experiences of the Heavenly Potter who transforms and molds each willing lump of clay. What a thing to hear...the personal story of someone's journey to the cross.  That is an experience like no other!

"Taste and see that the Lord is good..." Psalm 34:8
"Your word, Lord, is eternal..." Psalm 119:89

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What I'm Learning from Dirt

Watering dirt is boring. I decided this a while back when I first planted seeds in my greenhouse.
Daryl so kindly ventured into building a greenhouse for this gardener-want-to-be.  We spent months gathering repurposed wood and materials from the family farm. Now completely built, I affectionately call it "my oasis in the backyard." Though I am still learning how to NOT kill plants, I'm thrilled to have started my garden!

Once my seeds were sown, my eagerness became impatience as I really, REALLY wanted to see signs of life. Instead, I found myself daily watering...dirt. Honestly, it was kind of boring at first.  But eventually, I began to see tiny specks of vivid green emerge from under the soil.  Yay!

My very own greenhouse, thanks to a super
awesome husband.
Planting a garden has become a spiritual experience for me. The miracle that unfolds when a dry, dead seed comes to life is nothing less than amazing. As life springs forth in my back yard soil, it also springs up new life in my soul as I think about the way God has taken such an empty shell as myself and filled me up with the miracle of His life.

How patient the True Life Gardener is! As I spent the first weeks watering my dirt with no evidence of life, I began to appreciate how often my God-Gardener must do this with me. He's faithfully given me all that I need in order to grow, but probably spends a substantial amount of time watering my "dirt", waiting for the perfect moment for growth to spring up. He already knows that the miraculous changes that will take place are all His doing. He hasn't rushed me nor has He neglected. He's always known that miraculous growth takes time. I'm so thankful for His patience!

The bible has a lot to say about seeds, soil and farming. There's the Parable of the Sower and the verses about faith the size of a mustard seed and many others. As I watch my garden grow into full (hopefully productive) plants, I'm seeing with my very eyes what God was trying to tell me through His Word. My pretty little plants are revealing truths that have been just, well... stories. But I'm learning that the seed, and the DIRT, have a lot to teach me about my Savior. Lord, thank you for the beauty in dirt, seeds and gardens! And thank you for the life you've miraculously grown in me. Who knew one could learn so much while watering dirt?!

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."  I Cor. 3:7