Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I've been blessed with some very powerful, intimate encounters with this Man named Jesus and this Father named God that have defined my story in so many ways.  In the past few days, I have shared two of those with you.

Now, I don't believe that all of faith is based on such encounters; there certainly is a place for Bible study, devotionals, small group study, sermons, etc.  The thing is that these disciplines help us to stay open and searching for God, but all the knowledge in the world does not substitute for the dramatic effect of one moment actually with Him.

The difference is this, and maybe it's just me but I find that the more I dare to share such things, the more I find that it really isn't just me (Except on those awkward occasions when it actually is, and then I can only smile because God made me this way)...but the difference is that an honest encounter lets you forget.

When I stood in the waters of baptism, I forgot.  I forgot that everything within me was convinced I shouldn't have that moment.  I forgot that my conscious brain told me there wasn't enough water in the world to make this girl clean.  I forgot the pain and the torment and the hours of back-and-forth in the lobby.  Because in the encounter, none of that mattered.

When I met Christ again in the thick of my darkness and He invited me to lay down my story, I forgot.    I forgot the obligation I felt to tell it.  I forgot the heavy weight with which it defined my life.  I forgot that there was this other voice telling me I could never just lay it down, that life didn't work that way.  Because in the presence of God, none of this mattered, either.

We study our Bibles.  We read God's stories and the stories of men and women we consider giants or at least, good role models.  We see what God has done throughout the history of His people, through His love, through mercy.  And it's easy - at least, it is for me - to read those stories with a hint (often more) of longing.  Measuring our lives against what we read there, finding all the faults and all the ways our story is not and cannot be that.  We look at these lives and they are not our lives, and we are immediately drawn to this wistful resignation that these will never be our lives nor will they be our stories.  That this God...whatever this God is that we're finding in these pages, encouraged by, and thirsting for...somehow just isn't our God.

So while I think study and quiet time and Bible disciplines are great for teaching us how to begin looking for God, I don't think we can ever walk away with an honest impression of Him because we don't find Him there.  We find some other God playing into some other story, helping some other person.  We're convinced that the way to God is not to be looking for Him but to be changing our story into the kind of narrative where He will just show up.  In the midst of all that, He becomes a more distant God than He was before we cracked open those pages.

But in the encounter...oh, in the encounter there are no hesitations.  There are no questions.  There's nothing holding you back.  It's you and it's God and His presence is real, tangible.  His voice is confident, reassuring.  Everything in that moment is answered in this overwhelming abundance of all that He Is and you've got no choice but to surrender fully to that encounter....and forget.

And it's really nice.  Forgetting, I mean.  Whether it's a few seconds or a lifetime, a momentary freedom or a burden firmly lifted, everything within you changes right there.  Right then.  And then when you're blessed to have more encounters, your life becomes this drawn-out process of forgetting because the moment has no past and no future; the encounter is now and that's all your heart has room for in the company of the Almighty.

It's why I catch myself laughing when I think about meeting God one day for eternity, standing before Him and thinking of all the obnoxious, haughty, presumptuous, seemingly life-and-death questions I have for Him (and a good stern talking-to for Him, as well, because He needs to know what this is down here).  I laugh because I've met Him, and I know when I have the chance in the fullness of His presence to ask those questions and wag that finger, I'm not going to.  His presence alone is the answer, and the chance simply to stand before Him and beside Him is going to make all those questions moot.  I'm going to forget.

Because that is the blessing of an intimate, personal encounter with a loving, gracious God - the invitation to forget all this.  For just awhile for today.  And tomorrow, for eternity.

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