God’s Presence, Mystics
“But the fruit of the Spirit is ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.’ Against such things there is no law.” —Galatians 5:22-23.
I recently met with an amazing group of people who were searching for God in their lives. Several questions were asked: “How do you know you are in relationship with God? How do you know God’s presence? How do you know God is speaking to you?”
I have always been skeptical of people who tell me, “This is what God told me to do.” I do not know the voice of God until after something has happened, never before.
However, I have learned that I may be doing God’s will if I feel the presence of the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
We also can learn from the experience of others who were deeply aware of the presence of God. They are called the Christian mystics. Richard Rolle, the 14th-century English mystic, describes being in relationship with God when he feels a physical warmth in his body; when he has an awareness of God’s sweetness; and when he experiences a heavenly music as he chants the Psalms. I know that, indeed, music touches our soul; that the sweetness and warmth Rolle feels may be from one of the fruits of the Spirit.
I have heard others say they have a gut feeling of assurance when they think they are doing God’s will. Another common experience of the presence of God happens when we are in nature, where we feel the presence of something greater than ourselves. Others may learn more about the presence of God when they become ill or lonely or are suffering or dying.
Experience tells me that people of the feeling (F) type in the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator may be more inclined to develop this relationship experience with the Divine; but I also know that thinking (T) people can experience this presence and assurance through logic and truth in research and reading.
[See Ursula King, Christians Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies Throughout the Ages (HiddenSpring, 2001).]