After years of observation, I have come to the conclusion that Christians approach God one of two ways. We either interpret Scripture in a way that makes it line up with our own personal experiences, or we let Scripture speak for itself and question why our experiences don't line up with Scripture.
I see this often regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it crops up in less obvious and much more insidious ways as well.
For example, most of us define God according to our relationships and experiences with our earthly fathers, rather than what the Bible says. If you had a distant or absent father, you'll be more inclined to see God as distant. If your dad was a strict disciplinarian, chances are your view of God is much the same.
If we've experienced a major loss or defeat in our lives, those statements in Scripture that offer victory and blessing can be hard to swallow. And we may find ourselves doubting those passages of Scripture altogether.
These are just two examples of the plethora I could give you, and I'm quite sure you could come up with many more of your own. The question is, which is correct: our personal experiences, or the Word of God?
The ultimate challenge for believers, it seems, is to set aside our preconceived notions built on past experiences and old wounds--to surrender them, if you will--and take God at His word. To let God's Word redefine our lives, and not the other way around.
I'll be the first to confess that I struggle with this. As we come to the time of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, to the celebration of the moment when He defeated death and hell and set the captives free, I believe it's good to examine our hearts and find these subtle areas we have not surrendered or experienced freedom.
I'm praying today as David did, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way."
I don't know about you, but I want my life to line up with His Word and cease trying to force the Word to line up with my life.