“As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” – Acts 9:3-6.
Have you ever had a personal encounter with God? Saul (Paul) certainly did. Paul experienced an encounter with God on the road to Damascus. As a zealous Jew and Pharisee, Paul had thought that God wanted him to persecute every follower of Jesus Christ, and to stop the Gospel of Christ from spreading. He was sincerely convinced that Jesus was not the true Messiah of the Jews and that Christ’s followers were all God’s enemies. It must have been a rude awakening for him to discover the truth: he discovered the truth via a personal encounter with God.
Encountering God is not something to be feared or shied away from. It is not spooky, super spiritual, or made up by fanatics. Encounters are not for people like Paul, they are for all of us.
God is always with us, so how do we encounter God in our day-to-day lives? There is no clear-cut answer to this question, and people have encountered God in many ways throughout the centuries. Abraham heard the voice of the Lord instructing him to leave his land and travel to a land where the Lord would lead him. Moses had a one-time, powerful encounter with the Lord on Mount Sinai. The disciples encountered God during three years of teaching, preaching, traveling, and communing with Jesus.
Fast forward to today. God wants to reveal Himself to you so that you may encounter His love, grace, truth, and presence. Some people encounter God in times of corporate worship, and others tune their hearts to the Lord in private times of prayer. Others encounter God in the classroom, at the supermarket, or in conferences. Or they encounter God sitting in their easy chair before a fire reading their Bible.
We cannot see the Lord with our eyes, but we can see Him with our hearts. To encounter the Lord often begins with a desire, a gift of the Holy Spirit to open our hearts. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.” (Psalm 119:18).
Encountering God doesn’t have to happen on a mountaintop, in a lightning bolt, or in miraculous events. God is faithful. Open the Bible and read with expectation. Worship, pray, serve. All of these are opportunities to encounter the Lord. Every moment of every day is an opportunity to encounter the Lord as we abide with Christ. “or God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
- What constitutes an encounter with God to you?
- What can we do in the short term to foster a more intimate relationship with God?