Close encounters of the God kind!

Mike Betts on Lowestoft Beach

D L Moody writes of an encounter he had with the Holy Spirit: ”I began to cry as never before …”

”The hunger for this increased. I felt that I did not want to live any longer if I did not have the power for service. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with the Spirit. Well, one day in the City of New York oh, what a day, I cannot describe it. I seldom refer to it, it is almost an experience too sacred to name. I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of his love that I had to ask him to stay his hand.”

We live in a realm where material things are all around us; it is easy to become unaware that we are in close proximity to the dynamics and activity of heaven’s realm. The realm from which Christ came and into which raised from the dead he ascended, and from which he has sent forth his Spirit until he returns.

We can see the rule of Christ break forth in our day from heaven’s realm in all sorts of ways – the breaking out of kingdom activity like lightning bolts break out of a stormy sky. But we await the Saviour to be unveiled from heaven who will not then be like a lightning strike as his kingdom rule touches various places and people – no, when he comes again he will fill all things with the resident glory and brightness of his power and the fullness of his kingdom will embrace and enfold everything blending the material and spiritual.

Our world will be made anew to function as it should and the peace and order that should pervade it and all its facets will descend again. Somehow Earth and Heaven will meet and kiss and blend into one glorious kingdom where ‘He’ reigns.

Reaching into heaven’s realm
We should not be afraid of the breakout of heaven’s realm, of close encounters with God that are not normal to our daily lifestyles. Paul recounts his tale of being caught up into heaven’s realm and seeing and hearing things he is not permitted to talk of. The reality of his experience is a provocation to me that we are so close to the reality of heaven’s realm all the while, often without perceiving it. So close in fact that Jesus said ‘the kingdom is within you’. The Holy Spirit resides in us – we are his temple. We are not seeking presence from absence, rather we are seeking the unveiling and enfolding of heaven’s realm in the realm of our lives and world. To visualise ourselves reaching into heaven’s realm by faith through prayer and drawing out resources to touch the lives of people around us with his kingdom is quite close to the reality.

A hunger for his power and the intimacy of his presence that transforms us and all we seek to do to serve him is a longing every Christian should have. We are not just people who believe a set of facts. We are people who have and do encounter a living saviour. He can warm our hearts, speak into our lives and indeed change our whole countenance and outlook with a word or a touch from heaven’s realm.

Of course stories of ‘weird’ people recounting tales of weird things abound. Scripture is there for us to weigh and test everything by. But we must never seek to domesticate God or set rules for how or when God might break out from heaven’s realm into our daily lives. Lives surrounded by supermarkets and commutes to work and paying bills and cutting the grass. Such is the realm of daily life into which the Saviour first came. God broke in through Christ, he still does.

How hungry for encounters of the God kind are you?

Mike Betts

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