What happens when God shows up and He is totally other than we expected? What happens when we encounter God? Face-to-face with God, we are always aware of His total “other-ness.” He is infinitely beyond anything we can imagine, and he is especially beyond being manageable. How does life change when it runs head-on into an extraordinary God? We get some clues when we study what happened when biblical characters encountered God, worshiped Him, and responded to His strong presence.
When we encounter God, He will disclose a heart not right with Him.
When God comes walking in the garden of our hearts, we may try to hide behind the fig leaves of our own righteousness if our hearts are harboring sin or unbelief (Gen 3:7-10). Before our sin, Jesus went to the cross to enable us to receive the mercy and grace of God.
When we encounter God in worship, we will surrender completely to God to put our “Isaacs” on the altar. Worship precedes surrender.
Abraham told his servants, “(The boy and I) will worship and then we will come back to you” (Gen 22:5,9-10). When they reached the place where God directed, Abraham built an altar and prepared the wood on it. He bound Isaac and laid him on the wood as the sacrifice, and he took the knife to slay his own son. At that moment, Abraham revealed his fear of the Lord. Then God revealed Himself in a new dimension, Jehovah-Jireh, the One who provides the Lamb.
When we encounter God in worship, we will have his courage to go against overwhelming odds and see Him do what only He can do in delivering those in rebellion.
God said to Gideon, “Have I not sent you? Surely I will be with you” (Judges 6:14,16). In the strength of that promise and at God’s instruction, Gideon pared down his initial muster of 32,000 men to 300. Fresh from worshiping God, he confidently told the men, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands” (Judges 7:15). With the unconventional weapons of pitchers, torches, and trumpets, God provided His deliverance which only He could give.
When we encounter Him in our sorrow and broken dreams, He will come to us to open the Scriptures to our hearts.
Walking away from their disappointment, two dejected disciples met Jesus unawares (Luke 24:13-32). As they talked with Him, He explained Scriptures they had never understood. Likewise, God will come to us with comfort and understanding in His Word when we think all hope is lost. There are truths in His Word that we will understand only when we bring our hopelessness to Him.
When we encounter Him in worship, we will be assured of His presence, go in His authority, and make disciples who in turn will repeat the process.
When the disciples saw Jesus after the resurrection, they worshiped Him. Jesus said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… And surely I am with you always” (Matt 28:17-20).
Did you notice how many of these real people encountered God face-to-face in their desperation? Think of Abraham at the altar with Isaac, Moses at the burning bush and at the Red Sea, Jacob before meeting Esau, Joshua before a walled city, Gideon before a hostile army, Jehoshaphat before three hostile armies, and David in great trials of every kind. Listen to God tell you how He wants to meet you and show you more of Himself, His will, and His ways in your present circumstances. In all your life, look for Him. He is there.
Excerpted from Prayer Essentials For Living In His Presence, Vol 2, page 35-38. © Sylvia Gunter 2000.