An Encounter with the Living God

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encounterBy Carol Round “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations”—James 1:2 (AMPC).

A friend recently posted the following on social media: “One encounter with God can change your whole life.”

She added, “I’ve personally experienced many God encounters that created a 180-degree change in my life.”

Her post led me to ponder my own “God encounters.” My earliest childhood memories of experiencing God were in nature. I grew up in southwestern Louisiana, where I spent many hours outside inhaling His creation in the branches of a Mimosa tree and hiding from the world. Alone, I didn’t realize in the quiet that God was reaching out to me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I recognized His presence in my early life.

When God Reaches Out

Not all of our encounters with God are pleasant. In James 1:2, the writer reminds us to consider it “wholly joyful” when we “encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.”

In my 70 years, I’ve experienced many trials and temptations. It’s unavoidable, even for followers of Jesus. We are only human. One thing I do know, however, is that God can use those times to change us and change the direction of our lives.

As my friend wrote about her encounters leading to a 180-degree change in her life, so, too, has each encounter with my Heavenly Father led to places I never expected to be, doing kingdom work I never planned to do, and experiencing the changes in me I couldn’t have accomplished on my own. I’m thankful for every encounter, even the ones that left me doubting God’s love for me at the time.

Never Doubt God’s Love

God loves us so much. Jesus died for undeserving sinners, making it possible for us to have a relationship with God: “Christ . . . suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God”(1 Peter 3:18 ESV).

A relationship with our Heavenly Father is only the beginning of our journey. Our new life begins with allowing God to shape us through each encounter, whether it’s on the mountaintop or in the valley. It’s in the valley where God shapes us. Without those times, we wouldn’t change, wouldn’t grow, and wouldn’t become the individual He created us to be.

God can take the messes of our past and turn them into a message. He uses our trials and turns them into a testimony. Look what He did with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. His encounter with Jesus led to Paul’s becoming one of the greatest Christian missionaries in human history.

Encountering God in Your Life

I’m so thankful God took my messes and turned them into a message. His persistence in getting my attention led to a change in my plans at the end of a 30-year teaching career at age 51. I don’t use the word retirement because you won’t find that concept in scripture. An older and dear friend once told me it’s called “redirection.” God certainly redirected my life with a change of plans I never expected.

As a recovering “control freak,” I relied on myself, never expecting God to intervene. It was only after admitting my need for His guidance and direction, that my path took a 180-degree change.

Relying on ourselves, the world, or others to direct our path, we’ll get lost on the wrong street every time. When we submit to, obey, and follow God, our lives will change forever. Have you experienced “God encounters” that altered your life?

I always love hearing from my readers. Please e-mail me at [email protected] with your thoughts or visit my blog for more inspiration at www.carolaround.com. If you need a speaker or workshop leader, contact me at the above e-mail address or through my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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