September 29, 2011

Act's Of God

How do I know that God really acted?

That has been a question bouncing around my mind for the past few months. I suppose it started after I completed two personal discovery projects. One was the Disc personality survey (I am a dominant, creative type if you where curious) and the other was the NCD spiritual gifts test. As I was filling out the latter my mind wondered to the question, what would happen if an atheist or some other non-Christian were to fill out the NCD spiritual gifts test? Given the way it was written I was led to conclude that if a non-Christian took the test it would indicate that they had some spiritual gifts.

Which lead to to wonder;

How do I know if my desire to do something is God's prompting or if it is my own personality?

How do I know what I felt, or saw, or experienced was God and not something else?

Have you ever wondered the same?

Sometimes I wonder if I am a Christian sceptic.

Allow me to clarify that some.

I fully believe God is capable, and willing to perform miracles and/or to manifest his will in some sort of special way. There are moments in my life that I would say fall into that kind of category. So I don't begrudge anyone a special healing, a prophetic dream, a clear sense of God's call on their life or some other miracle.

What I am referring to are those not so clear moments; moments where my Christian scepticism just won't subside.

Let me give you some examples;

1. Being part a Baptist means I get to enjoy (endure) a lot of committee and board meetings. From time to time someone will say what seems to be a totally random thought, an utterly unrefined idea or an extremely poor plan. But they will bookend the thought by saying something like 'The Spirit is really laying something on my heart". Did God really act? Did God place that thought on to their heart or is this just a random thought stomping through someone’s head who feels little need to reflect on it?

In Insurance Language An Act Of God Means You're Out Of Luck
 For Christians An Act Of God Generally Speaking Is A Much Better Thing

2. Being a youth pastor I go to lots of events that could loosely be described as youth rallies. Depending on their quality sometimes I enjoy them other times not so much. However one of the things that never escape's my notice is the emotional arc that these events have. They begin with high energy songs, people are dancing, they are jumping, and they are smiling and singing, and they having a grand time. The lights are zipping around in various colours and if we are really lucky we are treated to a smoke show.

However after some time, and after a lot of energy has been expelled, and the crowd is in a near euphoria state everything changes. The lights turn lower, often blue. They stay still. The smoke clears. The band plays, with eyes closed soft emotionally laden music. We sing about forgiveness and love, and lately sloppy kisses. Afterwards depending on the temperament of the teen I am greeted with stories of how connected to God they felt in that moment of worship. Outwardly I encourage them, I may hug them. I admittedly love to hear them tell their story of feeling the presence of God. But subtly in the back of my mind I wonder, did God really act, or are we witnessing the results of combining teenage brain chemistry, emotional immaturity, energy depletion, and music and lights that are aimed at creating a mood.

3. As a pastor I preach, I give talks, and I teach lessons. I always do so with notes and with as much preparation time as possible. I like to research things, and reflect on them, but more than that I need to write down my thoughts. Without doing so whatever I said would be chaotic and confusing. I would be chasing rabbits down trails, and I would get lost mid-sentence. Other people I know do all the prep work but have no need for a written manuscript. A skill I admittedly envy. 

Still others do little if any prep work and the thought of writing anything down is ludicrous to them. Give them the bible and a microphone and then get out of their way. They pray for the Spirit's guidance and they don't want anything like research or preparation to inhibit the movement of the Spirit. As they speak what I often find to be a basic sermon that is somewhat confusing and quite often emotionally charged I find myself wondering, did God really act? Did God really inspire that person to say those things or are we witnessing the end results of repeated thoughts, poor preparation and passion.

Those are my examples. What do you think? Have you ever had moments when you thought, did God really act?

I know God is alive and active right now. I know the Spirit inspires, and that Christ is leading us. But there are times when I wish I had more certainty that God was acting. That the things I saw and experienced were not simply emotions, or randomness, or passion. Or in my case I want to know that when things succeed it is not because of correct long term planning or human determination. I want to know if God acted.

How about you? Do you have any stories to share or questions to air? I would love to hear them.