While preparing to write about this month’s word, “Supernatural”, I embarked on an unexpected journey. I wanted to know how other Christians defined and experienced the supernatural power of God, so I asked friends and colleagues, tapped into Google, and was drawn into story upon story. I wanted to know what scholars thought about the supernatural as it relates to our Heavenly Father, and I stumbled upon countless books, blogs, and theories about it. I also turned inward, to examine how I have personally experienced the supernatural power of God in my life. And then I went on a search to better understand how I might personally experience more of the supernatural power of God, reading scripture and articles and more scripture. If all of that wasn’t enough, I even felt compelled to dig deeper into the meaning of the word, “supernatural”.
I spent time pondering why the word conjures up feelings of fear and spookiness for some, and for others, excitement and anticipation. Many even long to experience the supernatural.
Supernatural comes from the Latin word supernaturalis, meaning beyond nature. The adjective form of supernatural describes anything that pertains to or is caused by something that can’t be explained by the laws of nature. Also defined as ‘mysterious, not of this world’, I think that’s where some of supernatural’s top synonyms come from – celestial, fairy, ghostly, heavenly, metaphysical, miraculous, mythical, psychic, superhuman, and uncanny. But keep going down the list and you find words like, transcendental, phenomenal, unfathomable, unearthly. I like those words further down the list far better than the ones above!
So, armed with more than I ever imagined I would know about the word supernatural, and about the supernatural power of God, I asked God what He wants me to do with all of this information I’ve taken in.
I believe that the reason so many people long to experience some sort of supernatural (and why people are drawn to unexplainable circumstances and things (such as magic), is because we have an inherent desire to connect with the supernatural – that is, God. We were designed to be in relationship with Him – “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (emphasis mine).
He immediately assured me that whenever I am doubting the power of God, there are stories from my life, from those close to me, and from His Word (Matthew 14:22-33, Luke 9:13-17, John 4:46-54, Acts 19:11-12 come to mind) that remind me of His presence and power – stories that are, well, supernatural really. They are beyond explanation by nature alone. For instance, I was in the receiving end of doctors telling our family that “God must have stented arteries” in my mom’s heart with no other medical explanation and thus avoiding a scheduled open heart surgery. I’ve been witness to prophetic prayer over close friends. I’ve felt peace and healing over a friend’s son who God assured me would be healed. I’ve witnessed God weaving together events in my life that, only after stepping back and taking a look at them, can I see glimpses of the beautiful tapestry He is making. Indeed, these are all supernatural occurrences in my life. And I look no further than to God for the explanation. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
These “supernatural” experiences on earth are what I believe give us little (or in some cases, quite big) glimpses into heaven.
You see, often times we are so stuck in our mundane ruts – so focused on what we don’t see God doing – that we simply miss out on what God is doing – in the big and in the small.
In his blog, “Where is Heaven on Earth?” Pastor Jonathan Parell makes a great point: “While so many are looking for that rare moment, for that bedazzling glimpse of the other world, the truth is that the other world, in part, is already here. The real miracle isn’t angels in the tops of trees — it’s the miracle of new life at work in us. Until the reality of God’s new creation overwhelms this old one, the way that heaven touches this world now is through his people — by his Spirit, through his people . . . people like you and me.” He continues, “Until God’s new creation overwhelms this old one, the way that heaven touches this world is through his people.”
With a longing for experiencing the supernatural power of God, I believe inviting it into our lives is as simple as the following:
Simply ask God to reveal himself to you. Open yourself to what he might have for you. When you are in tune and in relationship with Him, you are more apt to hear Him. (And He WANTS to hear from you! Read more about that here.)
Listen to and through the stories of others. Listen to how God is at work in their lives. And listen to what God might have for you. He talks to us all of the time – be it through scripture, other people, consistent messages we’re getting. Remember – you are an important part of His story and He wants you to hear what He has for you. Journal, meditate, pray out loud, pray with others, look for consistent threads and patterns that point to Him. (Proverbs 2:1-5)
God’s gift of love knows no borders and he certainly doesn’t want us to limit how much of Him we receive. You will be supernaturally transformed when you receive what God has for you. Every time. After all, love is the greatest manifestation of God’s power.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
– Ephesians 3:20-21
It is often in our deepest crises that we experience the most supernatural that God has for us the most. Reflect back on the toughest time in your life and see how God was at work. And as you face tough times ahead (we are all guaranteed that will happen), know that God is there for us and will use those around us to remind us of his power and presence.
There are so many more great nuggets of wisdom I could share from my aforementioned “supernatural” research. One additional finding that resonated was from a feature article I stumbled upon that highlights author Jared C. Wilson, who offers encouragement for experiencing God’s extraordinary spirit in our ordinary lives. For those who struggle to experience the victory promised to believers, Wilson provides clarity in his recent book, Supernatural Power for Everyday People, by highlighting the work of the Holy Spirit and offering practical disciplines. In a Christianity Today feature, Ed Stetzer highlighted “20 Truths from Supernatural Power for Everyday People”. Seven of those stood out to me and were just so good I had to share:
- When we relegate our intentionality with God to a minute fraction of our time, it’s no wonder we feel distant from him during the times we happen to be thinking about him and lack power during all the other times. Whatever we focus most of our conscious time on will invariably dominate the way we think and feel.
- Too many of us spend our Christian lives waiting on something big to happen, completely oblivious to the fact that the biggest thing that could ever happen to us already did, and it’s more than enough.
- Hearing from God through the Bible is bigger than simply discovering some religious guidance or personal pick-me-ups for the week. It involves hearing the secret workings of heaven set loose in the everyday stuff of earth.
- This is how the Christian life is designed to work: from beginning to end, the Holy Spirit envelops us in the loving will of God, seeding promise after promise in us and sending power after power through us by his breathed out, infallible Word.
- The Spirit is speaking to us through his Word when we go to listen, and the Spirit is helping us pray when we go to speak to God. Your time in the Bible is the primary means by which the Holy Spirit empowers you to live your life.
- We don’t find our strength in the stuff of the world; we find it in the work of the Spirit. But to be filled with the Spirit and learn this supernatural contentment, we must often be emptied by the Spirit of all else that might satisfy.
- The church is where God’s Spirit is doing the grand rebuilding of humanity and human relationships. To consider the church optional is to miss out on the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s super-naturalizing of mankind.
I’m left with a whole new and fresh understanding what supernatural is, and how I can seek out and invite more of it into my life. It’s no longer a word that conjures up visions of magical, unexplainable things, but rather it feels inviting, empowering, and reassuring.
Lord, I thank you that you give us glimpses of your power and love through the way you supernaturally engage with us. I pray that I can be in postures of listening and receiving what you have for me, so that I can experience more of your supernatural power, and so that I may be equipped to encourage others with your supernatural love, which I know is your ultimate goal for your children here on earth. I pray this in your Holy name, Amen.
4 thoughts on “My Journey with the Supernatural”
Wow so much to like about this post! It’s so true that the word supernatural tends to cause uneasy feelings but God is in fact working supernaturally by definition in and through us using the Holy Spirit. I was just thinking recently how I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit, the helper that Jesus left us with until He returns again. We aren’t alone! I loved when you said “You see, often times we are so stuck in our mundane ruts – so focused on what we don’t see God doing – that we simply miss out on what God is doing – in the big and in the small.” So true! Thank you for sharing and God bless you!
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Heather, thank you for your response and I love how you shared that you are “thankful for the Holy Spirit”. I have been challenged recently to seek thankfulness in all circumstances, (as that is certainly not always my default!) And while it’s one thing to thank God for the blessings He’s given us, to thank Him for the Holy Spirit is something I I need to be regularly doing! The biggest blessing of all – and what gives us “supernatural” power!
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I’ve never considered a God experience as “supernatural.” Perhaps I’m always equating it with the paranormal, fantasy or science fictional experience. And to say that the Creator of nature is apart from nature seems an unnecessary separation. That said, I would use the term “mystical.” I doubt there’s much distinctive about one term from the other, but that seems to float around my mind more seamlessly.
I do love the seeking and knowing and understanding the experience of God in our lives, regardless of what we call it. And that experience (sense, if you will) being part of everyday, not just the awe-inspiring miracles, is important, I think. Karl Ranher, SJ, wrote in the mid-20th Century that the Christian of the future (that’d be us, now) would either have a mystical experience with God or no experience at all. Given our cultural need to “feel” something, that seems accurate. But moreso, it is aligned with your writings here that we can have that in our everyday. We need to seek it.
Great post. Thanks for stretching my faith into new terms.
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Tim, I’ve certainly been challenged by this as well, as the word “supernatural” was not how I would “naturally” describe God! But I love what God showed me in the process – through my digging as well as through the words of our Good Word Project team and others around me. Thank you for sharing the additional perspective from Karl Ranher, SJ. – it’s amazing the foresight he had into our culture today. Thank you for always reading and engaging with Good Word Project!
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