By Noelle Morin
The social media-centered culture we live in seems to promote the collection and sharing of as many experiences as possible. As a mom of three boys, I find myself in daily pursuit of experiences. We explore vacation spots, try out new sports, and even get a little wild in the kitchen at dinnertime when I let the eight-year-old plan the menu and cook! Documenting our collection of experiences and watching others document theirs all over social media has left me thinking hard about how I might be merely experiencing Jesus. I started wondering if we are really engaged in knowing Jesus or just storing up experiences that don’t necessarily help us connect deeply to him.
I am a word lover who enjoys finding the true definition of words, especially when I discover that use of the word has been changed by culture. The definition of “experience” is “knowledge, acquaintance, or a practical contact with and observation of facts or events.” So I can assume that going to a museum or a circus or even a night of worship are all experiences. Going to a Rangers baseball game is an experience. Playing on the Spring Hill Panthers baseball team is not.
The difference between attending a game and playing on the team is the involvement of my time, my heart, and my soul. I’ve learned firsthand through watching my sons’ teams that they won’t play well if not every team member attends practice. It’s practicing together, encouraging one another, and the drive within each boy to master skills that makes playing on the team something relational, and therefore, more than just an experience to be observed.
A prayer meeting or night of worship is a spiritual experience wherein you can have real communication with God. But there is a profound difference between that and maintaining a daily quiet prayer and study time. In doing the work, putting time into a daily relationship, not just “observing facts or events,” there is greater depth. Our walk with Jesus should not be an experience but a daily entangling of our heart with his. Collecting spiritual experiences does not sustain us during trials, it does not promote growth, and it does not help others see Jesus in us.
Life should look more like a relationship than a collection of experiences. It should be peppered with celebration, steadfastness, and the fruits of a growing faith. We were not made to simply observe or have “practical contact” with our Creator. God made us to enjoy him, to explore him, and to rejoice in him.
Enjoy, explore, rejoice. These are not words used to describe experiences. You can experience a baseball game from the stands. I can experience a worship concert with great music. But I don’t want to just experience my God. There is so much more life-giving joy and sustenance in a relationship with my Creator. There is a deep intimacy and satisfaction in connecting with Jesus through prayer, exploring who he is in the Word, and rejoicing in the movement of the Holy Spirit.
How can you go deeper in your daily routine and in your relationships? How can you turn what likely began as a standalone experience into a thriving relationship? Remember, God made us all to live in relationship with him, and he gave his only Son so that we might do so abundantly, deeply, and richly. I encourage you, friends, don’t just collect experiences; give Jesus the time it takes to live a life of depth and connection.
Noelle Morin is a bossy, slightly introverted, coffee-addicted, redheaded aspiring writer. Having met Jesus at 31 years old, she is a second chance pro, late bloomer, do-over daughter of God, and she is ever thankful He loved her first. Noelle has been married for 13 years to her husband, whom she met on a blind date. They live in Texas, where she mothers their four boys and works full time as an occupational therapist.