Encounters With God

If you have children, you know how difficult it can often be to get their attention.  When they have their eyes glued to a phone, computer, or TV screen, you can repeat yourself, raise your voice, and probably even wave your arms in front of their face, and you still may not get their attention! Have you ever wondered if God is getting a similar reaction from you? 

If God is unable to capture your attention, you will experience spiritual suffocation. You will miss the opportunity to grow in wisdom, and you will never grasp what you ultimately seek, which is real peace, deep within, that can only come from God.

Why do so many of us fail to experience God and hear His voice? 

Some of us don’t have a close personal relationship with God because, like our kids, we are too preoccupied with all the day-to-day noise in our lives. We are busy with important endeavors such as work, running a household, taking care of our kids, caring for aging parents, or volunteering our time (and perhaps with some not-so-important activities as well!) Many of our distractions ARE important, but not at the expense of quieting our minds on a regular basis so that we might encounter God.

Some of us don’t personally experience God simply because we don’t believe that God is trying to communicate with us.  We either think we are not special enough, that God has more important matters to tend to, or that God just passively sits back and watches our lives unfold.  If we do not believe God will communicate with us, then we will not be able to hear Him.  In other words, God is unable to actively work in the lives of people who don’t believe He is able to do so (Mark 6:1-6).

Finally, some of us don’t hear God because we don’t know what we are listening for.  We are waiting to hear some sort of voice, or we are waiting for some sort of feeling that tells us God is near.  We don’t realize that God’s communication often comes through the words of others or through the seemingly normal events that unfold in our daily lives.  We are waiting for a lightning bolt instead of just noticing the little things that are happening around us.  Although God’s messages may be subtle, don’t mistakenly assume they are insignificant.  A message from God is always consequential!

If you don’t feel like you are hearing God speak to you, ask yourself if the reason may be one or more of the problems described above.  Recognizing and naming the problem will go a long way toward overcoming it.

Karl Rahner, one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century, said that if we don’t personally experience God in our lives, it is a huge problem.  He said that in a culture that rejects God and faith, we will not be able to sustain our faith if we only know about God rather than really know God.  He predicted several generations ago that Christians of the future will either be mystics, or they will not be Christians at all.  In other words, if we don’t personally work on a relationship with God whereby we can say we actually know Him and encounter Him, we will struggle to hold on to our faith.

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