If you were to imagine an encounter with God, what would it look like?
I often ponder the potentiality of intimacy with God that is available to us. I think as “mere mortals” we often place limits on what is possible in our relationship with him. We don’t believe we can feel that level of closeness, to rest that deeply in him, so we don’t reach for it. There is a way to walk through life feeling as though God is speaking to you through everything around you. God is everywhere, and it is possible to look at any object, any situation, or any person, and somehow understand God better through it.
For example, you could be really frustrated or angry with someone. Perhaps they’ve done something that you believe to be immensely wrong. How could that person teach you anything about God you might ask? First, you must understand that God loves that person just as much as he loves you. That he doesn’t see you as any better than that person. Once you understand that, you can begin to peer into just how loving and merciful your creator is. You can undergo a humbling in your spirit, a precious experience that changes your very nature. From there, you might feel curious about what God sees in that person so you look for it, and God shows you. You might see residual pain from a childhood filled with neglect and suffering. Perhaps a heart that has never learned how to trust because it has never known real, unconditional love. Maybe you wonder what that heart might be like if it did. Don’t be surprised when God nudges you to offer them a taste of that love. When we seek God in every situation, we can even find love for our enemies. As God pours that love into your heart and you offer it forward, you will simultaneously encounter God’s love for you, and through it, you and this person can both be healed. Now you are having a spiritual experience with your “enemy”, whether they know it or not.
Eyes To See
At first, it can feel extremely challenging to “find God in every situation”. I mean can eating a bowl of cereal really bring me closer to God? It will seem silly and likely confusing at first. The only way it becomes possible is when we stop relying on our human abilities to discover God. Without God’s power in our life, it is like we are walking through life with a blindfold covering our eyes. We might touch a tree, or hear the song of a bird, but we can never know it completely because we cannot see it. We might have imaginations about what this bumpy tower or singing animal might look like, but until we take our blindfolds off, we will never know.
It is the same thing with God. Too many go all their lives never actually encountering The Creator of Life, the one who brought them here in the first place. Too many live in blindness. It is not their fault, we cannot know what we are blind to until we have been given our sight. God desperately wants to be known by his children. But we must come to him, asking for him to remove our blindfolds. He will not force himself on us. When we do come to him with a firmness of mind and heart to discover him, he will pour out his grace upon us. Eventually, inch by inch, the veil will be lifted and we will begin to see what has always been in front of us. We can be given new eyes, eyes that can behold the True Reality. But until we receive them, life is just life and you are merely eating a bowl of cereal on a regular old Tuesday morning.
Sometimes it seems as though heaven has gone quiet. We might reach and reach, and it appears to avail us nothing. If I’ve learned anything in my faith journey it is that I must reach anyway. It is during these times that my spiritual “muscles” are growing, and on the other side of my trust and persistence I will eventually find God again. Once I do, I can see so clearly how all along the way he was making me into a new creature; someone who is more resilient, more diligent, and more patient. I have come to discover for myself that if we honestly seek we shall find, if we relentlessly knock (eventually) it will be opened unto us.
Heaven truly can be a place on earth, as long as we remain an available vessel for it to pour into our lives. At times this will require all the effort we can muster. We must never cease reaching for our God. We were not meant to walk through life without him. Sometimes we forget, so he blesses us with challenging experiences to draw out our longing for him. He knows how easy it can be to forget about him in a world that is so filled with noise and distraction. What might seem like cruelty or punishment might be the very thing our soul needs to recall just how much we want and need his power and comforting presence in our life.
It is easy to get “comfortable” in our spirituality. Perhaps there is nothing particularly challenging going on at this time in life and therefore we feel no need to reach for help. Or maybe we know that we feel a lot closer to God than we used to so for today that feels like enough. Maybe we’ve been particularly consistent in prayer these last couple of weeks or months so we feel we can “kick our feet up” and take it easy today (*cough cough guilty*). In moments like these it can be so easy to slip away from God, and before we know it we’re coasting through life without much thought of him or any real sense of purpose. Slowly (or quickly), our blinders go back up and we lost sight of the real reason we are here. We forget that life can (and should) be filled with deeply spiritual experiences and encounters with the beauty and divinity within and around us.
It can be so easy to settle for less than what God wants for us in our relationship with him, especially when we witness just how much effort that relationship can require at times. But what I have come to know after many seasons of neglecting that relationship, is that it takes a lot more effort to convince myself that I can find any real sense of joy and fulfillment in anything but him. Without him, life becomes dull, and so do I. The beautiful thing is that as soon as I remember and choose to recommit to that relationship, he takes me back in without a second thought. He wants us to keep growing in him, to keep peeling back layers of this illusion of separation so we can experience what it is to be one with him. He wants us to truly know him and know ourselves through him.
In every moment he is reaching out for you, beckoning you to draw closer to him so that you can experience the reality of his perfect and infinite love for you. Look earnestly for him in every moment. I promise you; he is there.