It all began a couple of weeks ago. Leaving my parents’ house one evening I glimpsed up and saw the beginnings of a sunset. I decided that on reaching home I’d take the opportunity to pause and watch it. Unfortunately by the time I arrived home the sunset had faded into dusk. A few days later on farewelling friends at the door I once again saw the beginnings of a sunset. All I had to do was go inside and step out onto our balcony to enjoy the view. But once inside I was distracted and missed my chance. It appears with a sunset you have to seize the moment!
During our days we have moments when an encounter with God awaits. But we need to press in then and there. They’re fleeting opportunities to turn aside and be aware of His presence in our day. It’s the song on the radio that stirs our spirit, the line in a book the speaks to our soul, it’s the prompting to listen in to what a friend is sharing, or to simply pause and exhale during our busy day. It is the inclining of our ear to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
For all of us, each day holds the promise of many God encounters. And like how we have to take the time to look up to see the sun’s rays paint the sky glorious hues of pink and red, our soul too needs to lean into these moments with God.
I’m yet to see my sunset. But while away on holiday, up early on a cold winter morning feeding my littlest chap, I had the opportunity to sit and savour the sunrise over a crystal sea.
“To eyes that see, every bush is a burning bush.”
“All of life is sacred, every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are.”
It would be fair to say that Ponsonby is coffee central when it comes to living in Auckland. Based on my recent working in this delightful suburb and the frequent coffees that miraculously appeared throughout the day from varying cafes I decided that if one worked in Ponsonby you were obviously no more than a few metres from a good coffee. In London that’s apparently how close you are to a rodent, so I’m happy with staying in Ponsonby! For me that meant that there was none of the 10 minute trek that it normally takes from my office to the best coffee purveyor in the CBD. My experience in Ponsonby this week is that any coffee is great!
So while tomorrow (sigh), I return to my normal office and its lack of coffee options I will remember how for a brief spell good coffee was in abundance! The funny thing is, it challenged my mindset when it comes to the Christian life. An abstract illustration I know, but bear with me! I think we often get into the habit of putting God at the 10 minute trek location when it comes to involving Him in our everyday life. Kept to the essentials of life, not the more frequent. Yet just as good coffee was seemingly at my fingertips in Ponsonby, God too is that close (closer!). He desires to be part of our lives not just “a part” of it. And He wants to be part of the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. God is always just a heartbeat, a moment away.
Yes – I may be suffering from a coffee fuelled caffeine overload that means that my musings may be vague and unusual! But I do hope that they make you think – how often do you turn to God in your day? A quiet help me please, to a whispered thank you for the blessings He imparts.
I am resolved that tomorrow I may need to avoid the coffee, but I hope to encounter God!
I’m sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by pieces of duplo. My 4 year old has just finished playing with them and has run off to find other toys (to add to the collection on my bedrooms floor!). In those brief moments between his departure and joyful arrival back with another armload of toys was a sacred space today. Moments when I sat back contemplating the playtime with my little chap. A moment when my thoughts of how much I love him turned towards God. When in that place of momentary rest I found myself enveloped by the presence of God.
God is not constrained or restricted by time. He doesn’t hold back His presence until you have a sizeable chunk of time set aside for Him. He is always near, always present and always ready to encounter us. That brief moment encountering the presence of God was not my only conscious time with God that day, but it was a stand out, precious and memorable moment. It was as tangible as the all enveloping hugs that my grandmother used to give me. It was as precious as an hour spent in worship at church or time spent with my Bible. It was an ordinary moment turned extraordinary as I connected with God while sitting on my bedroom floor surrounded by duplo.
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:23-24)
Kiwis, Our national bird. An icon. A treasure. Extremely rare. And not something we often get to see. The fact that they are nocturnal making it even the more difficult. My experiences thus far been restricted to squinting through glass in a darkened room for a glimpse of one nestled in the shrubbery or perhaps scavenging for food. On our recent holiday as we walked through the kiwi enclosure we were able to see one close up – right up against the glass wall that separated us. We watched it run, saw it use its beak to search for food. Excited at this close encounter we exited the room, out into the sunshine. How marvellous to have had this experience.
And then the unexpected happened. A Veterinarian stopped us and invited us to watch her and her colleague do a health check on a kiwi. There, out in the open, in broad daylight, without a pane of glass between us, a few of us were able to really get up close and personal with a kiwi. It was an amazing experience and a privilege to see this beautiful bird so close. An encounter after the official encounter.
My previous experiences and encounters have paled in comparison. A new benchmark has been set. It’s the same when we encounter God. Each time we are able to go further and deeper, a new benchmark is set. We are no longer able to be satisfied with an encounter that keeps us at a distance. We hunger for even more.
The best part? That God wants us to come closer. To press in for more. To let Him reveal more of Himself to us.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
“You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness. You sparkled, you blazed, you drove away my blindness. You shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath, and I pant for you. I tasted and I now hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I now burn with longing for you.” St Augustine.
That is what an encounter with God is about – He touches our lives in such a way that we long for Him even more. Let God sparkle and blaze His way into your hearts today. As you go about your business, your daily lives – He is there walking alongside you ready for you to see and encounter Him!
Yesterday, having arrived early to pick up my boys from school, I opted to get out of the hot stuffy car and sit outside on a grassy bank in front of the school to await the school bell.
From my vantage point I watched other parents arriving to collect their children from school. There were the fitness gear ones, the ones with strollers (with babies inside!), the straight from work ones, the on a mission ones and the group of friend ones. There were the on the smart phone ones, the kindy pickup as well ones and the running very late ones. All, I imagine, had had very different days. Some might have great days, others stressful or exhausting days. Some might have achieved a lot, some very little. But here we all were, from our different days, in our different states, converging on the school for the same purpose – to collect our kids.
It’s the same with Church really. We converge on Church on a Sunday morning from our different lives, in our different states. We have the serving ones, the on fire for God ones, the hurting ones, the reluctant ones. We have the ones in desperate need of healing, to the ones in desperate need of encouragement. We have the ones with testimonies to share, we have the ones with ministry to give. We have the ones who know God and the ones yet to be introduced.
We all come to church for different reasons and needs, yet really for the same purpose – to encounter God. For it is in the encounter with God that we are changed, that we are refreshed and that we are made whole.
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. (Psalm 122:1)