Monday, December 5, 2011

Re-encounter God...

Week 49:
Genesis 46:1-3a 1So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob!  Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied.  3a“I am God, the God of your father,” he said.
As I was teaching my Sunday morning class from this chapter the other day, this passage stood out to me.  Why would Jacob stop at Beersheba and have an encounter with God?  So, I asked my class, “What do you think was so special about Beersheba?”  What happened there that Jacob/Israel would stop there to encounter God? 
This leads me to this question for all.  Where do you have memories of an encounter with God?  At what place was this encounter?  When you go back, what sights, sounds, smells do you encounter?  Does this bring you back to the place and time where you encountered him?  As I think about those questions and the places that come to mind for me, I realize that in those places and sensing those senses, I re-encounter Him all over again to some degree.  Many times it is actually heart-warming.  One of those major places for me was the site where I experienced The Crucible Project Weekend.  Now, every time I go back and staff at that location, I feel the presence of God in a different way.  

The responses in my class ranged from the mothers in the room connecting with the experience of child-birth, to the college students remembering their baptism, to the men in the room remembering a mountain top experience with God.  In each case, when we return to physical location of that experience, we re-encounter God is some way. 
Now, here is what is interesting to me…Beersheba was home.  Abraham had settled there for a time after his treaty with Abimilech.  Isaac did the same.  In fact, it was at Beersheba that Jacob deceived his father and brother.  It was from Beersheba that Jacob had fled.  In all cases, God spoke with all three men at Beersheba.  It was home, it was where God led them, spoke with them, and would guide them.  For a lot of us, home is where we first experience God.
I know God is with us all the time.  He is watching over us, guiding us, working all the time.  I do believe however, that there are special places where He has allowed a deeper encounter with Him.  And I believe that there is no accident that when we return to those places of encounter, His spirit lingers in the sights, smells, climate, etc.  I believe He reminds us of how wonderful that encounter was.
  1. Describe one of your encounters with God that shows up when you return to that place of encounter.
  2. What is it about that place that reminds you or your encounter with God?
  3. What do you think God is communicating to you in that place?
  4. Say a prayer of praise to God this week for those places of encounter.
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