This past Sunday my pastor made a reference that stirred my thoughts. He was preaching on recognizing who we are in our relationship with God when he talked about having a “Radical Experience with God.” As I thought about that phrase I realized how lucky I have been to have such experiences and wanted to talk today about what a radical experience with God might look like in your life.
Scripture tells us all sorts of stories about people who have had radical experiences with God. Abraham had one with Isaac; Noah had one with the flood; Moses had several (burning bush, water from the rock, well at Meribah); Jacob wrestled with God; Daniel had one in the lion’s den; Jonah had one on a boat (and in a whale) as he tried to run away from God; Gideon had one with the wet and dry fleece; all the prophets had one when they were called; David had several both positive and negative; Mary had a VERY radical experience with God; the apostles walked with God; Peter, John, and James saw Jesus transfigured with Moses and Elijah; ordinary people had them through Jesus’ healing; Paul had one on the road to Damascus and when he was brought up to the Third Heaven; and John had his Revelation.
When we read these stories we think how lucky those people were to see God up close and personal, and if only we could see God so tangibly our faith would be like those in scripture.
I’m going to argue here today that God hasn’t changed; He still shows Himself to us in radical experiences and that we just need to acknowledge it is Him!
Show of hands: How many of you have children? Do you remember when your first child was born and that moment when you saw the child’s face and looked into those brand new eyes? Can anyone argue that that isn’t a radical experience with God who has blessed you with a child?
Scripture tells us that we are new creations in Christ when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior; the old is gone replaced by the new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Have you undergone that transformation yet where you actually change into a new person with new morals, new values, and a new outlook on life? If so you’ve had a radical experience with God!
Have you ever been reading scripture and a verse you’ve seen a thousand times all of a sudden hits you in a different and profound way, revealing an important truth to you that you never saw before? If so you’ve had a radical experience with God through the Holy Spirit!
How about this: Have you ever had one of those moments when you were doing something either in ministry or outside of the church when what you did filled you with so much joy and contentment that you knew it could not be from yourself but was a “Holy Spirit” moment when you were completely in line with God’s will? If so you’ve had a radical experience with God!
Have you prayed and had a prayer answered? If so you’ve had a radical experience with God!
I believe that God is quite active in our lives and just like with our Bible heroes God acts in radical ways with us as well. The problem we have is our lives are so complicated and disconnected from God that we don’t always see Him or acknowledge that what happened was from Him.
It’s easy to say a child is just a biological outcome; that you’ve chosen a new life for yourself on your own; that the scripture you read is hitting you differently because you have more experience than you did the times you read it before; that joy is just a result of chemical releases in the brain; and that it wasn’t prayer that made things happen the way you wanted rather it was the circumstances. When we intellectualize our relationship with God we can write Him out of just about anything.
But God is not an intellectual endeavor; He is our Father with whom we are in relationship. And in this relationship God yearns to give us nothing but good; He is eager to be as big a part of our lives as we allow; He wants to have radical experiences with us daily!
I recently bought a new computer and had to put up new screen savers. One of the things that I really enjoy is pictures of the California coastline. So I scarfed a bunch of photos from Google Images and put these pictures with the pictures of my wife and I in Monterey, CA and they scroll across my screen. When I look at them it calms me. I think this is a radical experience with God because it is His creation that gives me a sense of peace I don’t find when I’m just looking out my office window.
You see, a radical experience with God is a matter of where you look!
It’s also a matter of what you expect. I expect to see God in my life in tangible ways every day. In fact, I expect to have radical experiences with God every time I engage Him whether that be in prayer, reading scripture, thinking about Him, or doing His will and work.
What about you? Do you look for God and expect to have radical experiences with Him as you meet Him in your life? If not it’s time to change how you think about God! If you are willing (and that’s the key!) God will enter your life in magnificent ways
Today is Wednesday and I honestly don’t know how God is going to engage me today. But I do know He is going to and that I am ready to meet Him in that experience. I also know that God wants to engage you today as well – He wants to engage all His children. What are you going to do when He shows up?