An Encounter with God, by Kaiti Kirby, Pittsburgh

But God directs my path

Psalm 25:1, 4-5 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. … Show me your ways, Lord. Teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

[Debbie] On this last day of Lent, Kaiti invites us to ask God for encounters with him. This morning, I read in Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores this word from Diane Langberg: “God has sent you to walk the way of the cross, obedient to his Word, serving with humility, governed by his Spirit and bowing to his authority over every aspect of your life.” We’ll consider more of what Diane teaches us as we walk the way of the cross with Jesus next week.

Here’s Kaiti:

A couple of months ago at our church, we had an ordination service for two of our deacons. During the sermon, the bishop encouraged them in their ministry, while also tangentially encouraging the rest of us in our various ministries/life stages. One of the big points he made was that in ministry, it’s our encounters with the living God that empower us. Not anything we can do, not our own skills, but only encountering the living God. That really got me thinking. I didn’t feel like I really had anything like that, at least not in a way that felt tangible to me at that moment.

Not too long after this, I realized that I generally did not feel like I had a very close, personal relationship with God, and I felt sad about this. A friend encouraged me to start praying for encounters with God. I hesitated, feeling like it was unfair of me to ask. Certainly, I thought, I had encountered God many times in my life and just wasn’t remembering. But when I expressed this, my friend said, “Well, yeah, it is unfair. But God invites us to ask anyway.” So I started to pray that I would encounter God.

Pretty much immediately after this conversation, I saw that one of my Bible readings for the next day was Psalm 25. This was significant because God had used Psalm 25 in another situation months before to speak to me—one of the encounters my friend and I had just discussed on the phone. So there I was, having not even brought the issue directly to God yet He was already starting to answer my prayer.

Not only that, but when I got to my Bible Study for the next morning, the other part of my reading included Exodus 33, where Moses asks God if he can see His glory, and God shows up to Him. Moses asked for an encounter with God, and God said yes. To me, this was a clear “Yes, Kaiti, you can ask. And I will answer.” So I decided to keep asking. 

After a week or so, I realized I had already forgotten to keep praying for closeness with God, and I was struggling once again with feeling distant from Him. So I picked it back up. A day or two later, as I walked past the Catholic school right next to my dorm building, I saw a little booklet of papers flying across the sidewalk towards the road. Curious, assuming it was from the school, I picked it up. It was a bulletin from the ordination service!

That’s strange, I thought. The church is only a block from my dorm, but how, almost two weeks after the service, did it show up here? I pulled out my phone to take a picture to express my surprise to friends from church. But then I noticed there was writing on the back of the bulletin. And it hit me. It was my bulletin from the service!!

After the service two weeks before, I had walked back to my dorm, realized I had forgotten something at church, left the bulletin on a table outside my building to go back, and then forgot about it. And here I was, almost TWO WEEKS later, and here was my bulletin, busted up and dirty, and yet with my pen-inked notes perfectly intact, quite literally blowing across my path at the perfect moment. If I had walked by thirty seconds earlier or later, I would’ve missed it.

It wasn’t until I called my brother about it (someone had to know!) that I even remembered what the sermon had been about. This dirty busted up bulletin I was holding, which so conveniently flew across my path two days after praying for encounters with God, had a note on it from two weeks before that read, “it’s our encounters w/ the living God that empower us.”

I was like, alright God, I hear you. That’s pretty clear. Can’t really pretend that didn’t happen. To further solidify this as an encounter with God, two days later, I attended a women’s retreat led by Debbie, in which one of the talks was literally called “God Encounters.” We had the opportunity to share our own God Encounters. It seemed a perfect opportunity, and a bit of a wink from God that that’s really what this was—an encounter with the living God. 

So this bulletin has become an Ebenezer for me—a rock of remembering. It’s a tangible reminder that God is real, He’s listening, and He is very present in my life. 

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