When some of us say God has spoken to us or we believe in Jesus Christ, we’re using a kind of shorthand for a series of moves that begins in our own experience, in our joy and sorrow and need. Some people actually see Jesus himself, even now, or hear his voice. I believe this happens, this kind of direct revelation, but it doesn’t seem to happen very often, and for most of us it never does. For most of us “the Lord is my shepherd” or “He guides me in right paths” are phrases we decide to apply to subtle, everyday things.
One day we are overcome with a feeling of well-being. Reading a book something suddenly makes sense to us. Over time a conviction starts to build in us. We walk by a river or hike in a forest or look at the people we love and we have this nameless sensation, this feeling beyond words.
Except we do name it, some of us. We do give it words. Because of our upbringing and our tradition and our life in the Church, we label this experience with a dogma, we describe this experience with the words of the creed, we understand this experience through the scriptures. We’ve made a leap. We’ve moved from the concrete to the saving abstraction. We say, this feeling, this glimpse of something beautiful and meaningful and real–everything that everyone else experiences in the course of their daily lives–this we decide, is Christ. We reason from the gift to the giver, from effect to cause.
from Light When It Comes (Eerdmans 2016)