Book preview Chapter One, part one –
I remember the moment clearly even though it was twenty-five years ago. It was the moment my journey began—when God became real to me. I was nineteen years old and very lost. In the midst of deep depression, I reached out to God; suddenly and surprisingly, He reached back. I was sitting in a worship service when I was surprised by the presence of God. Instantly I knew God loved me. I had never experienced such supernatural love before. From that time on, God and I became friends. In that moment everything changed—what I valued, what I wanted to do with my life, and who I wanted to be with. God’s love changed everything. But it wasn’t just my relationship to God that changed; suddenly I was spiritually sensitive. I felt God’s love, and I sensed when His presence became manifest in meetings. During these encounters I would become enraptured in Him. But this sensitivity to God’s presence came with some unexpected challenges: not only could I sense when God’s presence was or wasn’t manifest, but often I would know why. If God’s presence was hindered for some reason, I could sense and feel it, and I could remove that hindrance so that I could be in the divine presence of the Lord again.
As a result of this pivotal moment twenty-five years ago, I have found myself following a divine road-map provided by the Holy Spirit, on a journey to develop my spiritual sensitivity and live in the presence of God.
Perhaps you are on a similar journey and perhaps God has made you spiritually sensitive. Have you ever attended a church service that was not very captivating, and then you felt the atmosphere change? Maybe the band started playing and suddenly you could sense the presence of God in the room very strongly. Maybe it was something from the pastor’s message, or a testimony, or a certain song that seemed to transform the atmosphere and capture everyone’s attention.
God was up to something, and you knew it in your spirit. Thus, your spiritual sensitivity prepared you to be alert and aware that an encounter with the Lord was imminent. I am sure that you have also experienced the opposite during a church service, when worship just did not get off the ground and it felt as if the presence of God was a long way away. The band and the songs were the same as when the Spirit of the Lord had come previously, but for some reason the room just felt flat. Notice the word “felt.” In other words, your mind was picking up all the same signals and probably seeing all the same things as when the presence of God was manifest, yet somehow your spirit was affected in an entirely different way. You felt flat in your spirit and maybe didn’t know why. The truth is you were sensing/feeling with your spirit what was going on in the room, but just didn’t have the tools or knowledge to know what to do with it.
Often spiritually sensitive people feel a “flatness,” or even a sense of warfare during a service, followed by a breakthrough and a sudden unhindered flowing of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Instantly, it feels as if heaven itself has broken into the room! God has given us, as His people, this ability to sense and feel in the spirit, in part, so that we can discern the dynamics of a changing spiritual atmosphere. Then, as we come to know what brings His manifest presence, we can partner with Jesus in seeing the presence of the Lord released! An ability to sense/feel spiritual atmospheres, such as those described above, is evidence that you’ve been made with the glorious ability to see and participate in the release of the presence of God in all spheres of your life, including church, small group, home, and even the market place. The places where God is calling us to bring His presence are endless, and He desires for us to be spiritually attuned to Him so that His presence can flow through us to the world!
If you can sense or feel various spiritual dynamics in meetings, or in the lives of people, then know this—you have received a glorious gift and the spiritual mandate to carry and release God’s divine presence. Like all spiritually sensitive people, God has given you a high calling—the calling to become a keeper of the presence of God. It is important to develop your gifting, so that you not only sense or feel the spiritual realm, but you are able to release the presence of God into situations around you.
Not with the Eyes but with the Heart
To mature as a sensitive person, there is a lot to learn. First of all, you must clearly understand that your spirit may sense or feel activity in the spiritual atmosphere while your mind is quite oblivious. Has it ever been your experience to find yourself aware of divine spiritual dynamics around you—God’s Spirit being released or being hindered—while others didn’t sense or feel anything? Such situations can be trying for us as sensor/feelers, as our spirits might pick up one thing, while our minds may not clue in. Yet we must realize that this very real mind-versus-spirit battle” is part of our training to be sensitive to God’s presence. In fact, even Jesus’ disciples needed to learn to value spiritual sensitivity to the presence of God.
On the Road
In Luke 24, we read about two of the Lord’s disciples on the road to Emmaus who sensed and felt the presence of God while not understanding intellectually what was going on. Scripture records that after Jesus’ death and resurrection, these two disciples were walking down the road when Jesus Himself came to walk beside them. They didn’t recognize Jesus, as they were kept from recognizing Him with their physical eyes and human understanding. But even though these disciples didn’t know it was Jesus, for some reason, they didn’t want Him to leave them. As they approached the village to which they were travelling, Jesus acted as if He were going farther. But they [the disciples] constrained Him [or urged Him strongly], saying, ‘Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ And He went in to stay with them.
Even though the disciples did not know their travel companion was Jesus, they were adamant that He stay with them. Why? Was it because of His great theology, or for some other reason? When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:30-32 NIV
What tipped off the disciples that there was more to this traveler than met their eyes? Why did they want Jesus to stay with them, even though they didn’t know it was Him? They felt a burning inside their beings because they were spiritually sensitive to God’s presence. Even though their minds did not recognize Jesus, their spirits did. This spiritual sense caused their hearts to burn with a deep longing for more of the presence of their Lord. Today, all over the earth, we, as God’s spiritually sensitive people, are still learning this same lesson—to pay attention to what we sense or feel in the spirit, even if our minds don’t understand. Valuing this “burning heart” revelation, even without mental understanding, is part of our transformation journey. We are all travelling from the place where we are beginning to sense and feel spiritual environments to the place where we are living as believers who are fully equipped to release the presence of Jesus into life’s situations. For spiritually sensitive people like you, this book provides a road-map to help you realize and strengthen your spiritual sensitivity, understand how your wiring works, and to know how to apply this wonderful gifting to pastor the presence of God in your church, home, small group, and community. Before we discuss why God has created us to be spiritually sensitive, let us first talk about who these people are—the ones I often refer to as sensor/feelers