The fourth in the GROWTH practices is to give Witness to your Spiritual experiences. The six are: Go to God in Worship and Prayer, Receive God’s Word for You, Opt for Self-denial, give Witness to Your Spiritual Experiences, Trust God in a New Venture, Humble yourself before God.
A spiritual experience in your spiritual life could be a fresh insight into your relationship with God, or a new conviction of something you feel called to do, or a whisper you heard to visit someone at what turns out to be exactly the right time, or a time when you felt empowered to reach out to someone, or a time of feeling a special level of love, joy, peace, or patience. The story of each of these experiences amounts to what you felt like before, the situation where you had the experience, and then how you felt afterward.
We usually talk about the Father in lofty terms of who he is and what he does. We like to highlight biblical names that describe his attributes and very generalized verbs that tell what he does; for instance, he is the Creator who provides for us. We also often use nouns and generalized verbs to describe who the Son is and what he has done for us; for example, he is the Redeemer who saves us from our sins.
But with the Spirit the generalized verbs for what he does usually contribute little to recognizing him around us now. He calls me by the Gospel, enlightens me with his gifts, sanctiﬁes and keeps me in the faith. The real question is how he did this lately. To answer that is to tell a story about what happened to you and how you felt afterward—preferably in as few words as possible. You are the witness to how he moved you from a before to a better after.
To occasionally throw in the phrase “by the power of the Holy Spirit” too readily becomes a formulaic cliché that moves by without communicating anything.
Giving witness to your experience names it. “This is what the Spirit did to me last year or yesterday.” Psychologists point out that to name something is to give clear recognition and makes it more memorable. To share it makes that experience even more memorable.
To communicate for outreach purposes, stories of personal experiences communicate much better than propositional statements, especially when those statements come in the form of Bible passages. Many who are unchurched no longer recognize any special authority of Scripture and pay little attention. But most people are willing to hear someone else’s personal story, especially if it is short. Your personal story of what the Spirit has done in your life is your best evangelistic witness today.
Name and Share are the subtitles for my book Your Encounters with the Holy Spirit: Name and Share Them—Seek More (2014). The GROWTH practices amount to seeking more. So are the practices of Conversational Prayer and Mindfulness described in the next blogs.
Have you told anyone about an experience of the Spirit that you have had?