Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed Savior of the world.” — John 4:42
The dispatcher calls, “Clear,” as the chosen ones make make their final adjustments to your safety harness. They step back, and with a loud “clank,” the brake releases. You’re on your way. The vehicle you are in slowly pulls away from the station, making a left curve.
No big deal.
Then the track in front of you begins its slow ascent. The “clickity-clack-clickity-click” of the chain pulling you toward the heavens, it either excites you or scares the bejeezus out of you. Higher and higher you climb.
So What Now?
Just when you think it can’t ascend any higher, it does. You see the people below getting smaller and smaller, as does your view of the rest of the park. A few more clicks, then silence as the world levels for a brief second; you know what’s coming… look, ma, I can see our house from here!!
The next thing you know, you plummet toward the lagoon below. Hearty whoops, and spine-chilling screams ensue. You hit the bottom, and try and breathe again, but you realize you’ve left that ability back at the top of the drop. Up and down, the ride continues. It tries to trick you with a couple of level areas, only to throw you down again, pushing your stomach into your throat. With every crest, you fear being tossed out of the car if you’re not holding on tight enough to the bar across your lap.
Finally comes the straight away, leading you to the station. But the car doesn’t seem it want to slow down, almost speeding up… but then with a shuddering “clack-clack-clack-clack,” the car abruptly comes to a stop… and with a slow crawl back to the depot, your ride comes to an end. When the lap bar is released, and you try and stand, your legs give way, causing you to almost fall over. Thanking God you are still alive, you make your way through the exit…
“Hey, that was fun… let’s do it again!!“
The Real Deal
Word of mouth is one thing. It’s quite different to have a direct experience. I ‘ve explained the exhilaration of riding a roller coaster. But unless you experience the heart-pounding and stomach-churning for yourself, all the words I could use to explain it pale in comparison to the real deal. I somewhat dealt with experience in my blog, “The Same, But Different.” (I also realize that I must have a thing for roller coasters.) I explained that each of us have different experiences that make us who we are. They are what make each of us is unique. And it can be difficult trying to ‘show’ our personal experience to we want to share it with.
A Real Experience
This passage from John speaks directly to conveying your experience to another and what happens after you do. Jesus was talking with a Samaritan woman at a well. (John 4:1-26). She leaves to tell the town about her encounter with Jesus. The people from the town are in awe of her testimony. They urge Jesus to stay with them, and He does, for two days. He teaches them. They all come to believe; at first through the woman’s testimony, then by experiencing it for themselves.
One’s True Experience?
Isn’t that how many of us came to know Christ? Someone invited us somewhere. Whether it was a church, concert, or some other event where Jesus is preached. Someone explained an experience well enough to pique our interest. We go, listen, and are changed by what we’ve heard. Our understanding goes from hearing to seeing to believing. We, like Thomas (John 20:24-29), believe because we saw it for ourselves.
We can have an experience like the woman at the well. Like Thomas. Like countless others: Moses saw a burning bush, Jacob wrestled with God, Jonah was swallowed by a fish, and Paul received a blinding light from heaven. All had a direct and different experience with God. Ours may not be as dramatic, but in our own way, it will be unique.
Your Real Experience
Where was yours? At an altar in a small church, you grew up in? At a youth camp that a friend invited you to go to? At a concert or crusade where the speaker was speaking only to you? Or has yours yet to happen? Have you read all the come-to-Jesus stories but yet never had a direct experience with the Lord?
It’s not too late. You’re never too old. You haven’t sinned too much. No one is ever too far gone. You may have been a hearing-believer your entire life, or you may have just signed up for this Jesus thing. Your personal experience is out there. Your moment of seeing God work firsthand is waiting. One thing may be hindering it. Action. Once you hear and initially believe, you must act.
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed two days.” (bold emphasis mine)
Action on What You Hear
The Samaritans heard, believed, and acted. The words the woman spoke took hold of the others. They wanted to see for themselves. And when they acted on that belief by hearing, they gained their own personal belief when they saw it for themselves.
Words show direction. Action takes you where you need to go. I can believe that Google map directions to Dallas will lead me there, but unless I get in my car and start driving there, I will not reach my destination. I can hear about God and what He can do for me, but unless I take action to come to Him, I will never reach my destination in Him.
To Put it In Context
There is a line from a movie I saw long ago. While the context of the film isn’t completely comparable to what we are discussing, the meaning behind of the words are. The essence of the quote, I will spare you the reference; words are only words. The reality behind the words is much greater. Meaning that we can share the word of God. We can share our experiences with Him, but unless people come for themselves to experience the reality of those words, then what we share will always remain simple words on a screen.
Originally posted 5.17.2017 edited 9.12.2022