Monday, June 27, 2005

External versus internal

Lately I have been reflecting on the supernatural. There is something in many of us that longs for the supernatural, the concrete experience of God. Miracles I guess. I know I wanted that for so long. I wanted to be filled with the Spirit in a tangible way, that is, I wanted to feel it physically. But I have come to value the still small voice.

This is the story - when Elijah went into the wilderness to meet with God and there was an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake. Then there was a wind, but God wasn't in the wind, and finally a fire, but God wasn't in the fire. And the "after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper". And God spoke in a still small voice.

One of the passages I have passed through is that of the still small voice. I learned to let go of the longing for the supernatural, and yearn instead for the gentle whisper. I learned to be lead not by the external but by the internal. The Counselor lives in me.

I have heard criticism of the Western Church, that the 'signs' of God, or the supernatural isn't so prevalent as it is in the Developing World's church. I'm not sure that this is actually a bad thing. Signs and wonders are a marvel, and there IS great power evident in the church of the Two Thirds World. I am excited and challenged by that. But I do not think that the visible lack of supernatural signs and wonders in the Western Church is a reflection of its lack. God moves in mysterious ways.

Wondrous and marvelous miracles have been performed in my life, but the still quiet Voice is the One I treasure


A. J. Chesswas said...

Amen sister. We don't need no sign, we've been blessed with an abundance of information and the privelege of a Godly heritage.

Iain said...

...*ahem* hooooooray!

Oh, and yeah, go the Old Testament.

Shame on everyone who doesn't read it enough.

Somebody once said that the New Testament were like the footnotes and the Old Testament was like the story.

While I think that might be going a bit far, the beauty and majesty of the OT is often overlooked for all the violence and "thus sayeth-ing". Not to mention the fact that Christ can be seen in Old Testament and New. I mean, heck, what Bible do you think Jesus had? Do you think he had the NT? Erm... no...

Maybe if we really respect the whole WWJD thing, we'd actually pay more attention to his own scriptures.

Oh, and welcome to freedom, Shaz. We've been waiting.

Iain said...

Here's an interesting test of faith to ponder:

Do we love and worship God because of who God is, or is it really because of what we receive?

Ask yourself this, would we continue to worship God if we never received another thing, message or sign from God again?

Would our faith survive a living Sheol?

One Psalmist has an idea about that (but there are so many examples).

andrew brown said...

We have no idea how important the Old Testament is! Personally I would say (and defend) that the New Testament is nothing more than a fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament.

"Ask yourself this, would we continue to worship God if we never received another thing, message or sign from God again?" Well my bible says that we worship God with our lives so as long as I was a christian then yes I would worship him.

I've seen many people fall from God who have seen countless "miracles" and "acts of the Holy Spirit" and yet who continue to ignore God, so I would believe that Signs and Wonders aren't fundamental in our Christian Walks at all, and yes, we need the Holy Spirit in us (and if we are a christian, then Jesus has died for ALL our sins we will ever make and therefore are completely CLEAN and FULL of the Holy Spirit) to guide us, because without the Holy Spirit we are lost.

Sharyn said...

Hmmm Andrew - in your emphasising of the OT, be careful not to underestimate the NT. Both are equally important.

Signs and Wonders aren't fundamental to our Christian walk - well that wasn't what I was saying. In no way am I saying signs and wonders aren't incredibly valuable. Just that the still small voice is equally valuable, and perhaps more special to me.

As for Iain's big question - in some sense it is a nonsense, since a personal God like ours would never test us more than we can bear. But, 'though he slay me yet will I trust in Him'....that is what we aim for. (But I'm not there yet). No, I don't think my faith would survive that.

But 'he knows we are dust'...

Iain said...

But the Lamentation Psalms highlight a faith that the Psalmists have, and a hope that they hold, even when they feel bad...

even when they feel empty...

even when they feel trapped,

and sad,

and alone.

They hold on to the knowledge that God will deliver them, on what they KNOW IS TRUE even when they don't feel like it's true.

We all go through that at some point. Many people experience, "the dark night of the soul."

I don't think that is nonsense, I think it's right there in Scripture. But, more importantly, I think we are shown a way to overcome that.

Psalm 42:11,
"Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. "

Job 13:15a,
"Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him"

And just look at Lamentations...

Pain, doubt, suffering... it's there in the bible just as it can be real among us here and now.

Lam 3:20, "This my soul remembers and is in deep despair on its knees inside of me."

In three chapters – 76 verses – describing pain, anguish, heartache, cannibalism and slaughter, there is one verse that stops it all in its tracks.

Lam 3:21, "But this one thing I recall to mind, and so I have hope"

And that one thing is?

Inside him, Jeremiah's soul sings out:

22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."

Pain is nothing to be ashamed of, our hope is greater than that... even when we don't feel the way we think we 'should'.

Read Lamentations some time, Jeremiah's faith goes against all logic, it really is quite amazing.

andrew brown said...

Sorry Sharyn I wasn't saying that you said they (miracles) were central, I was just saying, and I'm not undervaluing the NT, just pointing out that the NT is 100% related and born from the OT. God promised some things in the OT and they never came to pass then, they weren't meant to of course, but I do believe the NT, while of incredible importance, is (at a basic level) pure fulfillment of the promises of the OT. It's not so much addition to the OT as it is completion of the OT.

Sharyn said...


Oh I am so misunderstood, or at least I misunderstood you. I meant it was a nonsense to imagine a God who would never respond to us again, ever. Never would he push us beyond a point of return, and his signs are every where...

Your point however is truly valid - pain and doubt and despair are evidently an integral part of our earthy Christian experiance. An issue I have with the Pentecostal church is its rejection of this reality, of the 'victory' doctrine...

You make your point very eloquently and I quite agree. I too have travelled down dark roads and through doubt and despair.

Iain said...

That's okay, we're still the best of friends :O)

And don't worry, I expect the odd piece of confusion to occur through text-based, piece-meal conversations.

Here's my solution :P