Saturday, August 22, 2009

experiencial knowledge

Years ago I heard a sermon about "experiential knowledge." I'll spare you my butchered attempt at the Greek word, but know that a Greek word for experiential knowledge does exist. And, the word draws emphasis to the experience part of knowing as opposed to knowing something because you read about it or took a class on it or watched a movie about it.

That differentiation of knowledge has stuck with me, though I do not remember the passage it was based on. Recently, God gave me a powerful reminder of the truth I'd been exposed to so long ago.

As a mom, I've cared for many kids who were stung by a bee. As a former child, I had compassion because I'd been stung by a bee. But, I'd forgotten just how painful a bee sting could be. Then, I gained a new level of experiential knowledge; I got stung by a bee! As the pain radiated from the sting on my hand up my arm past my elbow, and as the pain continued to increase with each passing second, I gained a whole new appreciation for the agony my children experience when they are stung.

Then, I began to think about some of the things God has been showing me this summer. Though I've always known I am a sinner and imperfect, I expect a level of perfection I know is not possible. When I fail, I am very disappointed. Recently, I lost my camera AND my cell phone. The two items were worth hundreds of dollars, and I couldn't afford to replace them. Worse still, I was trying so hard to be diligent and careful, yet I'd failed. Heading into a worship time, my heart was surrounded by a wall of my own making and the joy that I usually experienced was notably absent. As I poured my heart out to God, explaining my disappointment in myself, it struck me; God KNEW I would fail. That was why He sent Jesus. It isn't just because I am a sinner and sin seperates me from God, but because I'm a sinner and even my best efforts are woefully inadequate.

I'm still wrestling with what all this means; I'm still very much struggling with my humanity and tendancy towards failure. But, in the midst of it, I am gently reminded that Jesus died for my failures. Jesus died for my successes. Jesus knew before He died for me that I would be damaged goods and that nothing I ever do will be enough to pay the penalty for my sin. And He doesn't care. He accepts me anyway. He always will.

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