After years of being a total “know it all” I’ve learned to be careful about interpreting the experiences of others. If person prays and something happens, I am not qualified to tell that person whether or not God is behind it. God might reveal the truth to me, but usually I’m to mind my own business because that experience belongs to the other person, not me. The author of the Chronicles of Narnia said through one of his characters that what happens to another is “their story.” It is up to that person to share it or not, and not my place to figure it out — unless God gives special insight.
After Jesus died and rose again, He appeared to two disciples. At first, they did not recognize Him, but later they knew who He was . . .
After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. (Mark 16:12–13)
I’m trying to imagine their frustration. They talked with the risen Christ, but didn’t know who He was? Then they were excited and told the other disciples, but they did not believe them? So now what? The various accounts indicated that the eleven disciples only believed after they saw Jesus for themselves.
Chambers focuses today on seeing Jesus and says once you see Him, you can never be the same. What strikes me in this story is that doubting what others say is not a new thing. Perhaps God puts that doubt into our hearts and “I need to see it for myself” is a protection? Or this could be how He makes our experience with Him totally personal?
One thing is certain; no one can see Jesus with my eyes. He comes to me at the point of my need and my situations are usually unique to my life. If another person is in the same place, Jesus may appear to them also, but they will not see exactly what I see because God knows their heart as He does mine. We are not the same and will need a unique vision to sustain and bless us.
Of course those two disciples wanted to tell everyone else, yet the others did not believe them. At that point, they may have remembered what Jesus said before He was crucified: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth . . . .” (John 16:12–13)
There is no better classroom for learning that God’s truth is a revealed truth than when I try to share with others something God has shown me. It might be as clear as day in my eyes, but as clear as mud in theirs. This is a two-way experience also. Even the best teachers and preachers will have some listeners walk away with bewilderment on their faces.
I can seek light from Jesus, read, study, and pray, but knowing truth depends on His enlightenment. When it comes, it changes my life, but it always comes when I need to hear it, no sooner and no later. I need to remember that each of us occupy different places on this road to fully knowing God. Some will know more or know less than others. We can share what He has shown us, but whether that truth is grasped and accepted is entirely up to the Holy Spirit. Good rhetoric will not do it — for without the Holy Spirit, it is just noise.