Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Encounter God

Recently I read about a ministry and church that works toward creating a place where those who come will be prompted to do more than simply watch what happens there. They hope people will encounter God. In the description of their goals, the word encounter stood out to me.

It could have caught my attention because I work at a ministry for at-risk youth that has used encounter as part of its name for almost forty years.

Mostly I stopped on that word because it prodded me, in a gentle, inviting sort of way, to begin to intentionally watch for opportunities where an encounter with God can happen. How often do I sit and watch a service or listen to someone teach a Bible lesson and passively take it in? God is nudging me to be not merely an observer as if he is far away and something to be casually considered or dabbled with. Rather he is Someone to be personally encountered and known.

It's not that this is entirely new to me (and it's in the Bible!), but I saw it a little clearer this time around.

God shows up wherever I go. Will I notice more? Will I participate? Will I dare to go deeper and encounter him?

So I considered ways to intentionally go beyond observation toward that encounter:

Pray and ask God for openness to him, for discernment and wisdom, for a willingness to be transformed.

In church, small group, or mid-week gatherings, while listening to a sermon or study, ask questions of myself and of God.

When in a discussion type of atmosphere or conversation, share my thoughts and questions. Humbly watch for ways to know God more deeply and to grow.

Practice thinking about God more throughout my typical day, naturally conversing with him even while doing the ordinary tasks.

Care about others. Prayerfully watch for ways to move out of my comfort zone to reach out to fill a need. Smile at someone who is frowning. Offer a word of kindness.

Look for natural ways to move beyond the usual comfort-zone conversations—about music, TV shows, movies, for instance—toward what’s happening personally with those I'm talking with, what matters at the core of who they are and what God might be hoping for them.

That's a start anyway.

Enjoy your day. Expect an encounter.

author of the Live Free series, Standard Publishing

true stories, true hope

for teens, young adults,
and those who care about them.

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