Thursday, February 18, 2016

Asking Myself: What is revelation from God? When have I experienced it?

This is the seventh installment of my series "Asking Myself," in which I weekly ponder one question posed in Teresa Blythe's rich book, 50 Ways to Pray. You can find the start of the series here and last week's post here.

Q: What is Revelation from God? When have you experienced it?

So, friends, I wrote this post in a flurry of inspiration earlier in the week, and when I returned yesterday to polish and publish, it had vanished. :( This setback, combined with finally succumbing to my children's head colds, makes this blank page pretty darn aggravating.

But we'll press on, right? That's what we do. Even in the absence of a revelation, or at most, in the vague aura of revelation's distant memory.

For me, in my personal experience, what I take to be revelation has been in the little whispers. The stillness. The quiet. Dallas Willard's Hearing God gave me confirmation in this perspective. From this vantage point, my definition of revelation from God would be: A moment's pause at the glimpse of God. However when I first journaled about this question a year ago, I penned the definition: A Life-altering revealing and embracing of the Divine. After which, I quickly wrote, "I'm not sure. Maybe this definition is too dramatic. Is it still revelation if one doubts?"

Both versions seem valid. Yet when I think about most of the scriptural examples of God revealing Himself, they seem to lean in favor of the dramatic and grand. Revelation in the Bible seems to be a sudden awakening, sometimes literally:

Samuel learning God is his midnight alarm clock
or Jacob's angelic ladder and his subsequent wee-hour monument making
or Moses and the burning bush
or Peter's animal picnic blanket trance
or John's crazy revelation that makes up the last book of the New Testament

Should I always consider revelation to be so very... BIG? I can't help but think so.

I think of Mary and Elizabeth as their bellies meet.
I think of Peter proclaiming Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
I think of Damascus-bound Paul collapsing in the most vivid blindness.

I think of all these examples, and I think revelation should rearrange one's paradigm.

But is it always sudden? Could it instead be drop by drop? Does it always involve words or directions? Or might God also reveal through images and sensations? Is it always undeniably God speaking to the one receiving? And if so, have I ever truly experienced revelation from God? What if I've only ever heard that elusive, still small voice? That's in the Bible too, by the way!

And is it only revelation if it is God personally speaking specific information or plans over me? Could or should revelation be reduced to the truths or doctrines other Christians have received from their interpretation of the Bible? Or does what was once revelation become mere letters of the law when stripped of their original weightiness and removed from their Revealer?

And--I think I have an opinion on this question-- has anyone (besides Jesus) the right to claim that God's full revelation has been fully unpacked by anyone or any group? Or are there yet vaster, greater depths hidden than are uncovered at this point? Angels long to look into these things. Yet I feel my understanding must be far inferior to angels'. Who can know the mind of the Lord? Who has been His counselor?

Well there. I'm sorry I've kept mostly to the theoretical and impersonal with this one. Maybe I'll write a follow-up post to explore the second half of the question more closely.

Next week's question: What is the meaning of the Trinity?

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