Saturday, September 02, 2006

Encounters with God

After lifting their faces to the sun all summer, my sunflowers are now bowing their heads. I searched the internet for pictures of people prostrate before God and found only a few--and they were all pictures of Muslims. It was Liana who reminded me of the flowers bowing down.

What happens when people are aware they are in the presence of God? I've been looking back through scripture and found some interesting encounters. See how they compare with your own.

In the very beginning, after Adam and Eve chose to please themselves rather than God, they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden. Their reaction? "They hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." Genesis 3:8. Why was that? Adam answered, "I was afraid..." vs. 10. Then, when confronted with sin, he blamed his wife. (Some things never change.) Have you ever hidden from God out of fear or shame?

Jacob hadn't seen his brother, Esau, in years. He'd deceived Esau and cheated him out of his inheritance and Esau held a grudge and wanted to kill him. Years later, Jacob found out Esau was on his way for a reunion and Jacob was terrified. All through the night before their meeting, Jacob wrestled with God and was even injured in the struggle. At daybreak Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Genesis 32:26. Can we relate to wrestling with God in prayer? Are we as persistent? Maybe, like Jacob, we'll never be the same after this kind of encounter. By the way, Jacob and Esau were reconciled. God answered.

Moses' dramatic meeting with God is famous, thanks to the movie, "The Ten Commandments." From a flaming shrub, God called out to Moses and Moses listened. " 'Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.' " Exodus 3:5. Removing shoes was a sign of reverence and humility, and we assume Moses did as God said. Then Moses "hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God." vs. 6. God commissioned him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and Moses was obedient to fulfill God purpose. Later on, after Moses was given the Ten Commandments for the second time and descended from Mount Sinai, we read that, "he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord." Exodus 34:29. He was so changed that he scared people. Have our encounters with God changed us? Do people notice?

When Samuel was just a boy, the Lord called his name, and once he recognized that voice, he lay still and said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." I Samuel 3:10. Do we find the time to quiet our hearts and listen?

Isaiah had a vision and saw the Lord seated on a throne in heaven in all his glory. This is what Isaiah said, "Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Isaiah 6:5. God's righteousness next to ours is a frightening thing to behold. But Isaiah was assured that his guilt was taken away and his sin atoned for. Then when the Lord asked him, "Whom shall I send?" he answered, "Here I am. Send me!" Isaiah 6:7, 8.

Everything changes when we know we're redeemed, loved, his. Next time we will see how people responded to meeting up with Jesus. What happened when you first encountered him?

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