God is with you

Here’s a free sample, one of the exercises from the series, “Your Story”. Where can we see God at work in others’ lives? How can we interpret that to help them to see how BIG God is? What is happening around them that bears the fingerprints of God?

Some voices speak of a pattern or purpose emerging in their life. They have a sneaking suspicion that they are here for a reason. For many people, it is more than a suspicion. They have been met by a happening from heaven, called an “epiphany” or possibly “a wake up call”. But what is real here? Some epiphanies may be just an overheated imagination, some of it superstitious, without a shred of evidence. Can we understand these spiritual experiences?

In this second series of Makes You Wonder, we will look away from church, philosophy and theology in order to focus on the everyday world around us. We will look at some of the experiences that we share with other humans, the common ground in experience though a Christian may hold a different view about them. Before we rush to state our view, however, we need to stop and listen, and engage in the experience. What are the clues to show that God has been there? What might it mean as we journey in our life? We will also face a few influences that can mislead us.

Introduction

The goal of “God is with you” is to show how, in people’s life-story, there are signs of God’s presence and His grace.

God is caring for people, and calling for people to connect. His rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. (Jas 1:17, Matt 5.45 ) Being made in God’s image, all people experience much of His grace, but often unknowingly. This exercise increases awareness of this Grace.

Key Question

Let us begin by looking into our own experience. Think of the time before you were an adult or committed Christian. (A childhood faith is tested by life.)

What was your earliest awareness of God in your life?

Other questions to try next time

What was the ‘hook’ in the gospel that drew you to search?
What has been one of the most awesome moments in your life?
When are you most aware that you are here on earth for a purpose?
What gives you hope to go on living?
Have you ever had an inexplicable or powerful spiritual experience? What was it?

(Leader will tell their own story first by way of example.)

Groups of three, talk for one minute each, then talk it over together for a few minutes.

All Together

List on the board the “hooks” in everyone’s stories. Sometimes one of the “other questions to try” also needs to be asked, to produce a wider range of responses.

Presence Frame

Categorise the answers onto the whiteboard under these categories:

  • God acting directly
  • Nature speaking of a Creator.
  • Particular circumstances pushed a person to seek
  • Other persons have influenced us

Discussion

(a) As a Christian, I believe these “experiences” are God’s invitations to know him better.

(b) Some evil is “awesome” also, that is why most people can’t scream when a burglar comes in. That is why evil characters in fiction are often more “interesting” than good ones.

(c) Our findings are an expression of the Christian doctrines of Creation and the work of the Holy Spirit in PREVENIENT GRACE or COMMON GRACE (as distinct from SAVING GRACE). If these terms mean nothing you may be glad to read up on them first.

(d) It shows us again how vitally important are some aspects of Christian lifestyle eg. listening, hospitality, community.

(e) How difficult was it for to talk about these things? Is it because we are shy or because these things are precious?

(f) What have you learned or noticed about talking sensitively with another? People with this ‘shyness’ appreciate our respect and safety and help in interpreting their experiences, not grabbing at their precious thoughts.

Conclusion

Within our experiences, God has many ways to break into our awareness, but we tend to take them for granted.

Your Story Topics

1. God is with You
2. Mapping My Life
3. Hearing You
4. The Smell of God
5. Imago
6. Stand Still
7. Epiphanies
8. The Parent Trap
9. Nitpick
10. Meditations

In each topic, your leader’s notes are written out in full, followed by a shorter version – in case you choose to give a handout to participants. Will you do this before, during, or after? – your choice.