Encounters with God
by Shauna Wallace
I stood there in the packed auditorium, mouthing the words that streamed across multiple screens. My mind was distracted, though, as my eyes searched the faces around me. Would she be here? Could we have a chance encounter?
It was the last Sunday of 2018, and we were visiting our daughter’s church. In the middle of worship, it occurred to me: Doris goes here too!
Doris is my beloved mentor. Going to her house to spend time with her in prayer is like going to my “spiritual home.” She has unconditionally loved and prayed me through some pretty intense soul searching, sin confessing and times of incredible transformation. What a delight it would be to unexpectedly see her!
Immediately, I remembered the picture God gave me literally minutes earlier on the way to church. As James drove, my thoughts wandered to the importance of prioritizing time with God. Just that morning, I had been working on a teaching for a women’s retreat. The theme is “Get Your Big But Out of the Way,” because we all have big buts we give God instead of obeying Him, right? The title of the final session is “Sit Your Big Butt Down so You Can Set Your Big But Down.”
Riding in the car, God brought to my imagination a huge auditorium packed with people. Someone I dearly loved was in the crowd, but I didn’t know where and had no way to find them. God didn’t show me a specific person. It was more a knowing that it was someone who lights my world every time I see them. A life-giving person. Just the thought of being in the same place was exciting and comforting, but to see them and talk to them would be inexplicably superior to just knowing we were in the same space at the same time.
And God impressed on my heart how this is what many of us do with Him. We know He’s there, and it’s exciting and comforting to know His presence is always with us. But if we encounter Him up close and personal, it is inexplicably superior to just being aware of Him. But too often, many of us leave it up to a chance encounter.
Friend, we can hope for a chance encounter with God, and when it happens, it is AWESOME. But what if we made intentional plans to encounter Him every day by arranging a specific place and time to meet Him? There is no formula or right way to do this, but it will involve two things no matter what: prioritizing and scheduling.
Then what? Consider talking to God in prayer or in a journal. A lot of times I write out my words to God because it helps me to focus and see what’s really happening in my thoughts and emotions. You can spend time listening, just like you would in a conversation with a friend. He talks to us through His word and the Holy Spirit, so you can read your Bible and study what it says. You can just sit quietly and think about the truth of who God is and what His word says, reflecting on how you see Him at work around you. You can spend time praising and thanking Him or drown your space with worship music.
No matter what we do, know this: when God makes us His children, He puts His Spirit in us as a guarantee, and He is always with is. He will not leave or forsake us, and nothing can separate us from His love. He is with us whether we make it a priority to seek Him out or not, but when we intentionally prioritize time to encounter Him, how much more WE know the reality of His presence and working in our lives.
Doris was in church that day, whether we ran into each other or not. Even if I didn’t get to see and talk with her, I was thrilled at the prospect of her presence. The service ended with a response time, and as I made my way to the altar and placed my prayer card there, I glanced to my right, and guess who was positioned at the front as a prayer volunteer? Yep! Doris! She and her husband were free at the moment, so I quickly made my way to them. There were huge smiles, expressions of delight, a group hug and a time of prayer together. Our chance encounter was such a treat – a gift from God! He does that for us, doesn’t He?
Let’s just not leave it to chance all the time.
Do you have an intentional time in your day when you prioritize at least a few minutes to turn your time and attention to encountering God in prayer, worship and/or in His word? Is it a part of your regular routine or rhythm? He’s not punching a time card of minutes or consecutive days in a row or evaluating how we perform in our time with Him. He just wants to reveal Himself to us in a way that allows us to know His perfect love. He wants us to seek Him with all our hearts and submit in total trust so He can do His work in and through us.
He is there. Will you be?
Much love and many blessings,
Women are drawn to Shauna’s teaching and Bible studies because of her in-depth yet conversational and practical approach to scripture’s truths as they apply to the nitty-gritty of daily life. The more she studies the Bible, the greater her grasp of God’s grace and love and the deeper her passion to see others experience the power and freedom of surrendering entirely to Him. She is a wife, mother and working woman who gladly and transparently connects with women wherever they are by sharing the good, bad and challenging of her life story, past, and present. Learn more at www.shaunawallace.com.