Growing up, I was a huge 49ers fan. It was the first football team I ever saw on TV when I moved to America. Big fan of Jerry Rice, big fan of Cool Joe Montana, and eventually became a huge fan of Steve Young.
I can tell you the starting D of the 94-95 Super Bowl team, in which they destroyed the Chargers (though, I don’t know why things like that take up brain capacity).
But everyone retired. And I realized that I was more about the players than the team. When Jerry Rice left for Oakland and Steve Young retired, I wasn’t much a rabid fan as I was before. Garcia to Owens never really did it for me. (Although, that playoff game against the Giants one year, when they came back from like 30 points down was amazing).
It wasn’t until the year of 2004, Sean Taylor’s rookie season, when my then-girlfriend (now wife) bought me two amazing tickets to the Redskins vs Eagles Sunday night game (she apparently thought I was a big fan of TO. I just bought into the hype of McNabb to Owens). We were on the 45 yd line, 5 rows back. I got to see everything. The training staff, the coaches, the players walking back and forth. It was an amazing experience. And, unfortunately, this experience has led me to become a die-hard fan of the Redskins, and has brought nothing but stress and anxiety. (I mean, look at this season! and last season! we started 6-2 and ended 8-8. And of course, the death of my favorite Skin at the time Sean Taylor, who was amazing when I saw him play live)
But experience is important, because it’s the way we encounter God. Experience leads us into a deeper relationship with God. Without experience, God never becomes my God. Without experience, God will perhaps always remain the God of distance or the God of my friends or the God of my parents.
For many of us, it’s through experience that we begin to know God and it’s experience that pushes on our faith journey.
Experience alone, though, is dangerous.
What happens in the beginning of our faith is that we have this amazing experience and encounter with God. But that encounter slowly begins to fade, as we get older. Sometimes, we are too caught up in trying to recreate that one experience we had with God. We become desperate in wanting to feel the strange warming in our hearts, and get frustrated because we can’t ever seem to feel God anymore.
I knew a kid who stopped going to church because he was tired of “getting saved over and over again.”
Though experience is important in our faith life, we cannot rely on it alone.
Upcoming posts: why reason, tradition and scripture are important.