Encountering God is such a broad topic, so I want to narrow down what I mean by this: when I talk about encountering God, it’s about encountering Him in my heart. Recently, as you know, I’ve read Christa Black Gifford’s new book Heart Made Whole, and it’s kinda changing my life. I’m encountering God in so many new ways and He is healing me piece by piece. This is a really nice season to be in as I’m learning how to just rest in Him. So I wanted to tell you all about some ways that I’ve been encountering God, some things I do so that I can just be with Him in my heart. These are just suggestions, so if you encounter God in your heart in a different way, I would absolutely LOVE to hear about it in the comments!
Anyway, if you are looking to encounter God in a whole new way and have deeper intimacy with Jesus, these five things might help you to do that. Again, it is a personalized practice, so ask God to show you what encountering Him in your daily life looks like for you, and see where it goes.
Open Your Heart
This first one is crucial to the whole process. If you want to encounter God in your heart, you have to first be open to letting Him in. This seems obvious, but it’s actually not. Have you ever been in worship and wanted God to just rush in and break down your walls and set you free? Well, it doesn’t actually work that way. Since God is so good and such a kind God, He didn’t make your heart so that He could just bust into it whenever He liked.
That would be a violation, because then you don’t have free will, you are subject to Him busting in all the time. Because God loves us enough to give us a free will to choose Him, to experience real love through that choice and not just make us all into robots that automatically choose Him, He won’t violate that free will to come into your heart or your pain. Turns out the King of kings actually submits Himself to us, so that we have to be the ones who will let Him in, and we’re the ones who are in control of our hearts. The only thing we can control, in fact, is our hearts.
So in order for you to have an encounter with God in your heart, to have an experience with Love that is greater than your pain, you have to first let God in. Remember, He won’t violate you. He won’t come in unless you invite Him in. But He’s always waiting at the doorstep of your heart should you choose to let Him come in.
A lot of times I think we mistake time with God to be work. And I don’t mean that reading our bibles or taking time to pray for our country is bad, I just mean that that isn’t always what it’s going to be like. One of the best things to remember, and one of the hardest things to practice, is that God just wants to be with you. Jesus just wants to practice being with you.
It’s kind of like that practice of doing nothing, He just wants you to rest in His Presence. Will He heal you? Yes, of course. And there’s a time for that. But He also just wants to be with you. One time in my heart, in the childlike part of my heart, Jesus and I just sat on the floor and I was painting a picture. He just watched me and said that it looked beautiful. That’s it. And it’s as simple as that.
It doesn’t always have to be this big thing. Sometimes I just lie on my bed and listen to music and just imagine a room in my heart and we just sit and listen to it together, me and God. Sometimes He sings to it, and I just laugh. It’s a nice thing, just being with Him.
Feel With God
What’s really cool about encountering God in my heart, is that I get to feel with Him. If I’m sad, He is sad with me. If I’m mad, He gets mad too. I’m never alone in my feelings. I always have Someone with me to feel them with.
You may be really confused right now. That’s okay, I was too. Feel with God? What? How?
It’s an interesting thing to explain, so I’ll give you an example:
One day, I learned about something that had happened to a loved one that never should have happened. I was angry, so so angry, because she is very close to me and I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. So I went into my heart, and I just said to God, “I’m angry right now, and I don’t know what to do about it.” So I went into this room of my heart with God, just an empty room in my imagination and Jesus was there. I was pacing back and forth, fists clenched. I just let it all out.
It was hard at first, because if you’ve read about my journey with emotions, then you know that I have not had the best relationship with them. I’ve pushed them down, I’ve denied them, I’ve thought that some were just wrong to feel, you name it. As I was pacing, I just said, “I’m so angry that this happened! This is wrong, it was never supposed to happen! This is stupid, and I wish it never happened!” And then, you know what? Jesus joined in.
He paced with me, and I saw His face sort of droop down in this sort of rage. He said, “I died so that this wouldn’t happen! This was never supposed to happen! She was never supposed to go through this pain!” We continued on for about forty minutes. It felt so good to finally get all of that out and feel the anger of it all. So that’s what I do when I feel these emotions.
I take them to Him, and we feel it together. I have a safe place to feel in Him, and you do too. He’ll catch your tears, bind up your wounds, get angry with you, and dance with you. He will help you to truly feel.
Getting healed in your heart is one of the greatest ways to experience Jesus. As you let Him into your pain, you get to learn who He is all over again. It’s like His love is just lavished upon you. It is amazing.
For me, and this is just my way of encountering Him in my heart, when I notice that I am really upset about something and decide that it must be something greater, something that is hurting inside my heart, I like to picture it as a room inside my heart. For instance, a while ago, I experienced insecurity. So I got a picture of what room this would be in my heart, and I let Jesus in. Sometimes He heals me right away, and other times He holds me through the pain. It depends on how deep it is.
But I always get healed. For you, it might be different. Use your imagination and ask God to show you what He wants to do with that unhealed pain. You’ll be surprised what you find out.
Use Your Imagination
I suppose this goes for the whole practice. But it is something that we often overlook, the power of our imagination that is. We use it for all sorts of stuff. I’m particularly prone to use it to imagine worst-case scenarios and such. No matter what people say, even if you have the worst imagination in the world, everyone uses it for something.
Encountering the living God in your imagination is one of the best ways to use your mind. But how do you do that? For me it comes easy, because I use my imagination for so much every day: plot scenarios, stories, anxiety, etc. It’s all part of my programming. But for those who are not very visual, don’t worry.
Not only is the bible a great company in every season, but it can also help you encounter God in your imagination. Those descriptions of the throne room in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 are great starter scriptures. Because you are seated in heavenly places, you can imagine yourself at the right hand of Jesus, sitting beside Him because you are His child. So get creative with this. Don’t limit yourself. Ask God if there’s anything He wants you to visualize, and ask Him to help you if you have trouble with that. You’ll find that it is a beautiful way to experience Him.
So that’s my way of encountering God. Please note that a lot of this was inspired by Christa Black Gifford’s newest book, and a lot of these ideas are in there. So totally check it out, because I didn’t come up with this by myself and she is AMAZING. I wanted to share these with you guys so that you would have a better understanding of what it means to encounter God and how exactly you can do that. If you want more tips on that, then check out her book because it has changed my life and I think it’ll change yours too!
Hoping you have a deeper intimacy with God and are drawn near to Him today!