Apart from the main article below, entitled The Experience of God, this section features on separate pages articles showing how the transcendent and incomprehensible God can be experienced in life for those who have the eyes to see.
For related experiential accounts of God’s Love, see
For a historical overview — from Old Testament Israelites to New Testament Christians, see
The Experience of God
Truth about God is revealed to humans through personal experience, through the universe and nature, and through divine revelation that surpasses experience. Here are some examples of experiencing God in life.
Many faith traditions, including those outside of Christianity, have the concept of a higher Spirit power. Without this belief, life has no meaning and becomes purely a very temporary existence of ceaseless striving and purposeless suffering with an inevitable end in death. Humans feel by nature insecure, trying to justify and find meaning in their existence. The concept of death – being reminded that we don’t have to be and will one day cease to be – fosters a continual fear which is a chronic pain. Life by itself is futile, no matter what we accomplish or accumulate.
Something in the human heart, soul and psyche is yearning for more than this. Human beings with their potential for fantastic creativity, ability to conceptualize amazing ideas and bring into existence incredible things, as well as being able to display great altruism and self-sacrifice can also experience a great restlessness and descend to tremendous depths of depravity. Why this paradox? And is there anything behind all this as well as behind special moments from beyond ourselves – experiences of transcendence or what could be called “moments of grace”?
Most of us, if we stop and think, have experienced amazing synchronicities or coincidences as well as unexplainable favourable happenings that have become a special and undeserved gift — a gift of grace. Sometimes we may only realize retrospectively that something extraordinary had occurred. These experiences can be both positive and negative — experiences of limitation in which our world falls apart and in our powerlessness, we become open to mystery and grace.
The positive experiences of transcendence and awareness that what is given cannot be attributed to ourselves include interpersonal love, childbirth, creativity, forgiveness, and the beauty of nature. They also include supernatural protection when disaster was certain, and special breakthroughs when things came together just at the right time without our effort.
For example, the love shared by a man and a woman in marriage, or even between friends, is something profound, undeserved, wonderful, and mysterious. Likewise, experiencing or witnessing the birth of one’s own child often gives the parents an overwhelming sense of the mystery of life – sensing that they are co-creators of the new and unique human being with Something that is beyond them and that the child is a special gift given to them and in a way, not totally theirs.
In creative endevours of any kind, we often sense inspiration – being touched from within and sensing the mystery of our own being as well as something beyond us which accounts for what we have produced. Other moments of grace occur when the heart is supernaturally softened and we are enabled to let go of anger and bitterness and forgive the person who has grievously wronged us. Also, something marvelous and overpowering in nature gives us a sense of personal smallness and an awesome mystery beyond, which often elicits thanksgiving and praise.
Experiences of grace in limiting situations include disaster, death, failure, terminal illness, loneliness, and alienation. In these we hit our limits and finiteness, yet as it happens, we are taken beyond ourselves into the mystery of grace. In our darkest hours, we may, perhaps for the first time, cry out for help to a Higher Power – having exhausted all our options and hoping against hope that someone may hear and answer. And often, there is a sense of being helped, upheld, and supported. While difficult to deal with at the time, these experiences may ultimately become life-giving turning points.
If we become mindful and attuned to these moments of grace – even in small, ordinary things and events, we’ll be amazed and indeed awed at their frequency. It is all a matter of awareness.
Another aspect of divine grace transcends the physical and mundane as our eyes become opened to realities beyond the here and now and beyond death. We become awakened to our spiritual state and start asking about the purpose of our lives and how to fulfill it both in this life and beyond. We realize our shortcomings and the need to rise above our human condition. And we may start seeking and be led to the way to “salvation” — a spiritual life transformation in this life in order to ultimately fulfill our God-given purpose in the life beyond here. This is the greatest of all of God’s gifts of grace and results in the God of grace transforming us by giving us of His substance and nature to become His true children and enjoy immortality in His Celestial kingdom. This is God’s salvation, all free for the asking, but requiring desire, commitment and conscious effort on our part.
(Some ideas adapted from Human Experience of God, Denis Edwards.)
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