Summary: Does God still encounter us in this generation? If so, how and where does this occur?
WHERE WE MEET GOD
INTRO: The purpose of God for all creation is that it be brought under the lordship of Christ. In Him the fullness of deity dwelled bodily. We were made in the image of God, made for fellowship with him (v. 27). Since we are made for fellowship with our heavenly Father, we encounter him in various ways.
How and where do we encounter God? How and where does he disclose himself to us? The Scriptures contain the record of many persons who met God in days past. Abraham was the friend of God who lived in a covenant relationship with his Creator. God was real in the experience of the O. T. prophets and others. With the birth of Jesus, God came into the world. His name was Immanuel — God with us! God walked the dusty streets of Palestine in the person of his Son, Jesus.
However, the question is not simply did it happen in the eighth century B.C. and in A.D. 29, but does it happen today? Does God still encounter us in this generation? If so, how and where does this occur?
I. WE MAY ENCOUNTER GOD IN OUR MOTHER’S LAPS.
That is where I first learned the name of Jesus and felt the love of God. It is hardly possible to over-emphasize the importance of our early spiritual influences. Parents, grandparents, other relatives, and teachers made profound impressions on us for good or ill.
In our churches, we need our most skilled and dedicated teachers working with young children. Think back to your childhood and recall those who influenced your life for good and for God.
If some of these persons are alive, resolve to express your appreciation for them. A visit, phone call, or note to them can be a great encouragement. Many of us can say we first encountered God in a Christian home.
II. WE CAN ENCOUNTER GOD IN CRISIS TIMES.
Someone indicated that the Chinese word for crisis has the same characters as the word opportunity. It is true that a crisis experience can be an opportunity to encounter God. This is not always the case. Crisis times may cause us to become bitter and blame God.
The common ventures in life can cause us to he aware of the nearness of God. At such times the veil separating this earthly life from the spiritual reality all about us seems thin. One such spiritual crises is conversion. For many this occurs around the age of ten or twelve. With a child’s faith, we affirm our love for God and our faith in Christ. Whenever conversion occurs, it is a spiritual crisis of eternal dimensions.
Another crisis may occur during adolescence. It can center in the choice of our life’s work, or the answering of God’s call. Sometimes it occurs at a summer assembly or retreat. We often refer to such times as “a mountaintop experience,” recalling the trans-figuration.
What is at stake in this experience is the lordship of Christ in our lives. It may be that we are quite willing for him to be Savior but unsure about letting him be Lord of our life. This is especially true when it appears that his will for our life may be in conflict with what we want to do. We may encounter God, rather uncomfortably. This experience often results in a rededication of our life.
There are many milestones at which God becomes especially real to us. These can include such experiences as entering college or military service, beginning a career or profession, the time of marriage, the birth of a child, retirement, or bereavement. These common ventures all involve risks and all have the potential for human-divine encounter.
III. WE CAN RECOGNIZE GOD IN THE ORDINARY.
How do we recognize the great moments when they come in the midst of the ordinary routine? God is sovereign. The Holy Spirit, like the wind, blows where it will. There is a holy unpredictability about the One with whom we have to do.
Since God made the world and made us, we may encounter him anyplace and at any time. Maltbie D. Babcock expressed this in the words of a hymn:
This is my Father’s world, And to my list’ning ears,
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world, The birds their carols raise;
The morning light, the lily white
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world, He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear him pass, He speaks to me ev’rywhere.
We may very well encounter God in one whom we help; in a child’s smile or candid remark; in love’s embrace. We might as well come to expect him in the unexpected.