“Truth divorced from experience will always dwell in the realms of doubt.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Fresh out of high school, I was convinced that the medical field was for the path for my life. Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Chemistry….the books piled up higher in my arms than I could safely walk and see at the same time. It didn’t set me back, though. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat as I made multiple trips from the campus bookstore to my car.
Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last. While visions of practicing medicine had danced in my head at the dawn of the year, those same pictures fell prey to hours and hours of study, exams, and concepts I struggled to grasp. I lived for time in the lab. Only there could I practice what I was learning in a way that was tangible for me. Soon, I began dreading the lectures. And with only one year of classes under my belt, I decided I no longer wanted to be a nurse.
Have you ever had an experience like mine? (Hopefully you were more disciplined in your 20s than I was and continued your education regardless of whether your passion waned.) Have you ever had some newly discovered knowledge inspire you only to watch the excitement fade without the experience of practical application to cement it into your life?
Some of us easily get addicted to knowledge. We love to learn something new. But often, the facts that were so exciting and inspiring when we first encountered them become stale pieces of information filed far back in the recesses of our brain. At some point, we run into someone who reminds us of what we already knew and we recall the lost piece of information, “Right! I remember reading about that somewhere!” Without experience to provide much needed life to the seedling of knowledge…that is as much daylight as the random piece of information will ever receive.
All too often, that scene describes our relationship with God. We collect information, tuck it away into the filing system of our brain, and leave it there to collect dust until it comes up in conversation again. Except for helping us feel smart in the moment, the knowledge hasn’t benefited our life in any way. No wonder our passion for God and the plans He has for our lives wane. There is no experience to cement any new revelation into our life, to stoke the fire of what captured our hearts in the first place. And all we are left with is the potential of what could have been great if only it had become something more than information.
This is the reason why starting a devotional life is so critical to the health of your relationship with God. You need more than knowledge; you need to experience God.
Did you know that studies have shown that the number one factor in determining the future health of someone’s spiritual life is whether or not they have a daily devotional time? To be clear, we are talking about a time set aside from your day where you read the Bible, perhaps journal about what you read, and spend time in prayer talking to God.
I am not suggesting that you check off a list or complete a quotient of good works by reading your Bible and praying. What I am proposing is being intentional with your time so you can experience God. It is more than collecting information, it is the developing of a friendship.
Here is what I know about experiencing God:
It transforms me.
I am convinced that there is nothing in all this vast universe so powerful as being loved. And you and I are loved by the God who created it all, put the universe in motion, and sustains it with His goodness. Being loved by Him changes me in all the ways that are important.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19
It teaches me.
As humans, we experience this life in 4 dimensions. Scientists have concluded that there are at least 11 dimensions. That means that I am experiencing not even half of what is actually taking place all around me. That tells me that there is A LOT more to this life than I know or understand.
Although it is beyond what I can wrap my brain around, I want to learn from the One who knows more about life than all of us put together.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
It gives me purpose.
It is an honor to be invited into something so much bigger than myself. God isn’t limited to the perspective of the here and now…He is writing a story that started long before my life began and will continue long after this body has run it’s course. Spending time with God not only reminds me of this truth but unlocks the door for me to actually be a part of what He is doing.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
Let’s all be honest…starting a devotional time isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It takes up time that you are used to investing other places, it is a little awkward at first, and the rewards aren’t always immediately realized. But we also have to admit that is the case with any new habit we decide to implement in our lives. I think most of us can be honest enough to say that working out, eating healthy, getting organized, or anything else we try to develop new habits in takes a lot of work. Starting a devotional time takes a good deal of effort, but it is effort well invested. Experiencing God is always worth it.
Next week, I have rounded up some of the leaders in Sun City Church to tell you about how they started a devotional life. They have some tips and tools that I think you will find useful. Look for that post in your Sun City App or on our Facebook Feed.