‘They drew back and fell to the ground.’ John 18.6
Physical manifestations of a religious experience are fascinating phenomena. Some people testify with a genuine heart about significant moments when their bodies have physically manifested something of the presence of God. It may be falling over, shaking, laughing, crying, exuberant praise or a variety of other actions. What this particular verse highlights to us is that there can be a marked difference between what is going on with our bodies and what is going on in our hearts.
The soldiers who came to arrest Jesus certainly had an experience of the presence of God – he was standing right in front of them. Their bodies reacted to his presence as they fell down without any prompting. What did not seem to happen was any spiritual transformation within their hearts.
This is not in any way making a judgment about physical manifestations – they may happen or they may not. However, whenever we sense our bodies reacting to the presence of God, it may be wise to pray that our hearts will be equally touched by him.
If we sense the presence of God in any way, let it be a signpost to us that God is nudging us, and let us be quick to open our hearts to him as well. And if we feel nothing at all, the truth still stands that God loves us with an unending love and that he is present with us in every part of our lives. Whatever you might be feeling right now, sit with him and enjoy being in his company.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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