Encountering God

When I was 28 years old I had a powerful encounter with God.  I was an alcoholic with other vices not worth mentioning, who was actively running from God.  When I had lost my job, was flat broke and in the middle of an argument with my then fiancé over my reckless behavior, I received a phone call that changed my life.

“Son, I was praying and the Holy Spirit told me to call you and ask if you need a place to stay?”  I was in shock because my fiancé within a minute of that call had kicked me out of our house.  “Yes dad, I do.  Can I come tonight?”  I slowly made my way to my father’s house stopping at every bar on the way, showing up at my dad’s house drunk and depressed.  I slept for a few days, and the only thing my father asked me to do was go to church with them.

As I walked in to the church I was raised in, I felt guilty, shameful and did not want to be there.  I was in my own bubble of fear, doubt and condemnation.  I have no recollection of what was said or asked, but that Sunday morning, I stepped out of the aisle and came forward committing my life to Jesus Christ.  This is when the encounter began.

There are moments in our lives that we can recall in our mind that are as clear to us as if we were there.  The death of President Kennedy, the events on the morning of September 11, and for some it’s when we get married, or when we encounter the power of loss, or the joy of new life entering the world.  These experiences can shape us and mold us. That day is clear and vivid, as I wept before God and sensed His hand on my shoulder, His love pushing out all of the sin in my heart and life.

I walked away changed, though I still struggled with my addictions for years while trying to serve God.  The amazing thing is that every time I chose to come to Him and let Him work in my heart, I had a new encounter with Him.  Even today I am awakened excited for the encounter I am going to have with God.

God has great plans for His people, Jeremiah 29:11 shows us the heart of God toward His people, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  If you are looking for peace, looking for hope in your situation, God intends that for you, and is thinking of how to get those things in your life.  Encountering God is up to you.  He is always ready to meet you wherever you are.

I would encourage anyone reading this to stop and take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into an encounter with God that will bring the peace and the hope that you seek.  God might put on your heart to call your friend and heal a relationship, or to go read your Bible, or to even sit and be quiet.  Whatever it is, listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in you and watch as your encounter begins to change your world, and the worlds of those around you.