23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.
28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.
John 4:23-30-The Message
What an amazing and life changing encounter this Samaritan woman had at the well with Jesus. Realizing he was truly the Messiah and that the “living water” was the way to the truth, she went and told all her friends. Because of that single encounter, her friends came to Jesus, seeking his healing and restoration of their lives.
God realizes the thirst and hunger we have. He longs to fulfill our deepest needs. We often try to fill these holes in our souls from the outside through various compulsions, addictions and behaviors that do nothing but leave us feeling empty and searching . It’s not an outside job but an inside one.
But Jesus approached this Samaritan woman and showed her the way to repentance and forgiveness and how to achieve eternal life. Imagine Jesus even talking to a Samaritan. They were shunned by most of Jewish society and were to be avoided. But not by Jesus. He shuns no one who longs for a fulfilled and satisfying life.
Not you. Not me.
It occurred to me that a lot of people desperately want an encounter with Jesus, to seek his healing power and to help them during this unsettling season. So, I published a blogpost requesting my readers to send me ways that they encounter or have encountered him. What follows are those responses.
I thank each and every one of them for their wonderful contributions. I hope you find them encouraging and uplifting as I do.
I encountered God in a powerful, physical way when I held my first grandchild the first time. There was a warmth that felt like a physical presence connecting my heart with Seamus’. I knew this was God. I now understand the phrase “God is love”. This same feeling occurs every time I hold any of my three grandchildren close. I have been richly blessed. “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love”. 1John 4:8
I encounter God in various ways:
• Through the love and forgiveness of my wife and family…They’ve had much to forgive
• Praying with my wife
• Through the beauty of God’s creation
• Through my grandson Lincoln…experiencing the joy I find in him connects me with the joy God finds in me/us. Also the love and delight that Lincoln has for his Pa Pa inspires me to love and delight in daddy God!
• Through reading and meditating on the Bible with its message of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness which is unearned and unconditional.
• Through using my imagination to picture myself with Jesus in a calm and beautiful setting (much like Psalm 23). Along with this I utilize deep breathing from the diaphragm which research shows calms the body and the brain.
• Through time spent with my “band of brothers” either in person or over Zoom (darn Covid). The grace, empathy, support and occasional challenge we give each other are priceless and connect me with the relationship heart of who God is at the core of his being (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
I’ve been lucky enough enough to bear witness to the good lord smiting evil while helping the just and good people flourish. Happened time and time again in my life. That’s when I really know and feel God’s hands working all around me!
My first personal experience with God was in November 2006 while I was on my bicycle. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was overcome with gratitude for the first time in my life. I waved to God and thanked him and offered my sincere appreciation for him. A friend of mine was telling me about Jesus and I asked God to let me know if Jesus was his son. I wanted to know the truth. The next day I went to a church and set an sat in on a Bible class. The folks in the class prayed for me. Following that day I rode my bike every day and thank God, Never asking for anything just expressing gratitude. I heard from God as clear as a bell telling me that Jesus was his son and that Jesus was central to everything in his kingdom. I was compelled to learn everything I could about Jesus in the Bible. I became devoted to Jesus and learn to love him deeply. Prior to that I cringed at the name of Jesus. I told a friend of mine what happened and she said that’s the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you and points to Jesus. I knew there could be no other explanation for it and I was overwhelmed with the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. I knew that there could be no other explanation for my transformation then God’s intervention into my life with his Holy Spirit.
I am in the middle of divorcing my wife of 33 years. Prior to this I never considered divorce an option for a troubled marriage. As a follower of Jesus Christ I feared God’s judgement along with that of family and friends. After all God says “I hate divorce!”.
It was only after experiencing years of loving grace, acceptance, and encouragement from other men that I came to the decision to file for divorce this year. These men drew out the hidden feelings buried deep within my heart never once telling me to do one thing or another. Over time I began to see the insanity of my life and what life could look like if I were to venture out in faith trusting the God who loves both my wife and I to lead she and I through this death of our marriage.
Since making the decision to file I have experienced God’s loving presence over me and our children. I was able to privately visit with each of them assuring them of my love and encouraging them to continue loving their mother. I was met with understanding by each one and even began to explore what the future might look like for the kids and I!
I have heard people say that “God told me to divorce..”. I can honestly say that God never told me to divorce my wife. I have grown to understand that divorce is only a provision made available by God for irreparably broken marriages. It was my decision. God met me in that. I have seen God use divorce as the catalyst for healing in a troubled marriage. But not always. God only promises to be with me and my family before, during, and the rest of our earthly lives. Where I expected His displeasure and a pulling away (or punishment) has been met with a soft spoken kindness like no other.
Finding a sacred spot….so grateful that my pastor has allowed the church to be open for such over the last 9 months. Something about sitting in an empty church in silence, alone that has been so sacred and therapeutic. There is nothing holy per say about the space but there is something profound that has taken place as I have sat, cried, lamented, worshipped, offered thanks, thought, prayed, journaled, stared out the window or just walked the floors. Scripture says where two or more are gathered He is there, I would say He has consistently shown up when it was just me. These almost weekly-JIm encounters have been more life giving and sustaining then most corporate experiences; no offense those are good too! We often fear or avoid silence, it is uncomfortable at times no doubt. Perhaps it is the introvert in me but silence has become my friend. Give it a try!
I speak with God daily. Most mornings I thank him for the many blessings he has given me. Even though this is one of the worst years I’ve experienced, I can still be grateful for my life. Got has filled my life with many people who have cared for me and loved me. I still have many friends, family members who have shown me love in many ways. I can appreciate this even when I am in a situation where we are right now with this virus limiting our participation with one another, I still have contact with friends in many ways. I’m still grateful to God for putting you in my life.
Denny, thanks for your blog and all your encouragement.
I’ve always believed in God, but I never had a relationship with God until about three years ago. Growing up catholic, how much can you really get out of a service when its all in Latin, and you’re even the alter boy. For me, mass was learning the routine and going thru the motions.
Then it happened, three years ago things went south. That’s when God gets our attention. I started to pray, (not 3 hail Mary’s, and a couple of Our Fathers) but really praying, talking to God. He’s now my buddy. Praying wasn’t the only solution. It’s like a puzzle, you need all the pieces (church, fellowship, bible reading, group, Celebrate Recovery) to get the full picture. It’s an ongoing process. Some of the activities I learn from, where as others just keep me grounded, and that’s okay too. It’s an ongoing process, and even that is a blessing.
Thanks for letting me share.
Thanks for asking this question and spreading the good news of God. I have encountered God, The Holy Spirit, and Angels throughout my life in all kinds of ways. In dreams, in quiet early mornings, in a post from a friend, in a hawk flying in front of my car, so many I could go on and on….. As my trust and faith has grown, so has my personal relationship with Him grown closer as well. This has taken work and is always a ongoing conscious choice that I must ask God for help with.
I have specific verses from the bible taped on kitchen cabinets. I look at them every morning. Yet even more so, especially the most trying times, I consciously attempt to walk myself to those taped up pieces of paper! I mediate on them as well. I read and write a lot. This also helps me to grow closer to God as this opportunity also gives myself and my brain, heart and spirit, a chance to grow and think and “self perspective take.” As well as time to look thru others lenses, (perspectives).
The Lord has put His Angels in my life, and in those I love deeply. You are one of them Denny Osborn!!!!! God IS there. Everywhere. God is Good. All the Time!!! For me, listening more, being quiet, being consciously PRESENT is how I find myself hearing Him the best.
Just like Humans!
I was led to read Romans 8 38 and 39 it was at that time that I realized no matter what I had done no matter how I felt that God loved me he had always loved me and he always will love me. Still my go to verse.
Had my first three radiation treatments. So grateful to feel the presence of my Lord while laying there alone.
We have been seeing God move in and through our family for the last several years. Currently, He is using us to lead a group of brothers and sisters in reaching our neighbors for Jesus through a small home church gathering. We simply read the Bible together and discuss its meaning, its application to our lives and the struggles of doing it well. We encourage, inspire and challenge one another in serving those folks God entrusts to our care through our spheres of influence. Whether it is our blood families, our work environments or our neighborhoods, God has called us to be light, salt and the difference-makers. We have been blessed to see God show up in signs, miracles. Wonders, provision and protection. To Him be the glory in Jesus’ name
-Vinny and Vicki Sturdevant
My first time meeting Jesus was when I woke up after 3 days of heavy drinking. I knew i needed to stop drinking . I had tried many times but didn’t know how. So I prayed for help. As it happened, one of my coworkers was in recovery. He mentioned to me that he was going to a recovery meeting and invited me to go. I know Jesus was the one who put people in my life to help me stay sober. So January 4, 1988 Jesus took the obsession to drink away and because of his love I just celebrated 34 years sober.