Today's devotion from Daniel 7-8. These are not the first dreams Daniel has with which Daniel has wrestled. However, unlike his interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel's own visions affect him profoundly. After seeing the Ancient of Days, Daniel describes himself as distressed and terrified. During the vision of the ram he finds himself face down and unconscious. After the vision, he lay sick for days and was "greatly disturbed."
Think of all that Daniel has endured already. He has been threatened, forcibly brought before the king to answer for actions, thrown into a den of lions, all of these happened, and I don't remember the Scripture alluding to Daniel as broken or distraught, though he surely was. However, these visions have so shaken him that he is physically affected.
As I thought about this, it suddenly clicked. It's one thing to see what God is doing in someone else's life, and, perhaps, it is easy to explain the odd actions of lions, but it is completely different to behold even a vision of God, personally. This line of thinking took me back to a time in which an encounter with God had radically altered the trajectory of my life by setting me on course to become a pastor.
There is a difference between knowledge and experience. I wonder how many day's I've wandered through based on a knowledge of God, but lacking the power and conviction of my experience with Him? I wonder how many times I've read the Bible instead of seeing the Bible reveal God? I wonder how many times I've sat in a worship service without ever really worshipping?
That said, I don't want to confuse this with emotion. Sometimes we just have to have the discipline to honor God even though we may lack an emotive feeling. That isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about letting our interactions with God be flavored by our experience more than knowledge. Atheists can know about God, but I can know Him personally and call upon that experience when I pray, when I study the Scripture, when I worship, and even when I am interacting with others.