I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
In theological jargon, the Wesleyan Quadrilateral describes the interconnection between four primary sources of doctrinal knowledge: scripture, tradition, reason and experience. These four sources of knowledge work together to shape our understanding of God and our relationship with him. Within this structure, different people might choose to emphasize one source of knowledge over the others. In my way of thinking (and John Wesley’s), scripture should play the largest role in shaping our theology, but we shouldn’t discount the value of the others. Even scripture itself highlights the other legs of the quadrilateral, with some passages highlighting tradition, others engaging our capacity for reason, and still others calling us to understanding God through spiritual experiences.
The Psalms fall most clearly into this latter category, especially the Psalms of David, who often described his closeness with God, his personal encounters with the Lord, and his spiritual-emotional connection with the Almighty. David was a poet, and he had a special ability to put into words his feelings and spiritual experiences. In Psalm 139, David explored God’s active and powerful presence. David felt God around him everywhere and all the time. For David, God’s presence was far more intimate and personal that any theological tenet could capture. David didn’t just know about God; he had a relationship with God as a constant companion and source of abiding strength. God was everywhere David went, and his mighty hand always guided David forward.
How do you know God? Is it through the teaching of the church? Or the words of scripture? Or your intellectual conception of the divine? Or is it how you sense God’s movement in your life? I hope all of these play complementary roles in shaping your knowledge of God, and more importantly, drawing you into a loving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I hope also that you share with David the life-giving awareness of God’s hand guiding you and his strength supporting you. We should learn about God and ponder his glory. We should discuss theology with other believers and fill our minds with the long-cherished truths of the Christian faith. And we should open our hearts to feel and enjoy God’s wonderful presence around us every day.
Father, I know You are with me now and always. Thank You for promising never to leave me alone. Help me to feel the movement of Your Spirit in my heart and to listen to Your voice, as I follow Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian