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When I was 9 years old, I gave my heart to the Lord. I walked to the front of my church, told the pastor that I had accepted Jesus into my heart, and went through some Bible classes on what becoming a Christian meant. That was my very first God encounter. It was simple and uncomplicated. In my heart, even at such a young age and even if I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of my own sin, I knew I was in need of a Savior. That Sunday began my journey with Christ.
I was recently asked to share on God Encounters in my life. As I sat down to write some notes, I began to reflect on the first time I remember encountering God and the timeline of miracles – both big and small – that were evidenced in my life over the last 30 years. Beyond my salvation experience (which was a miracle all its own), I remember my first miracle. I was on fire for God, read my Bible every day, attended Sunday school every week, prayed and talked to God. In a simple, yet profound way, I understood that Jesus was my best friend. My life was pretty crazy at that time: my dad was an alcoholic, my mother had been killed, years earlier. and I was being abused in my home regularly. It was chaos, yet I was completely in love with Jesus.
It was Christmas time that year, and I was about ten years old. My family was wrapping Christmas presents in the living room, and my stepmom asked me for the tape to use for one of the gifts. I started looking and looking…. and looking. I couldn’t find it. Because I had been abused as a child, I became immediately fearful that if I didn’t find that tape I was going to be in big trouble! I looked everywhere I could think. Finally, I decided, as a 10 year old little girl, to go in my bedroom, lie across my bed, and pray about it. I covered my eyes and started asking God to please show me where the tape was. Within seconds, I got up from the bed and walked straight to my parents’ bedroom, into their closet, and picked up the tape from a shelf inside the closet. Now, I know this isn’t some earth-shattering miracle. But it was my miracle, something God had done for me. My childlike faith believed God heard me, and that what mattered to me also mattered to Him.
God is in the small things and He’s in the big things. God Encounters look different for each one of us. Yes, God Encounters have been big ones for me through the years.
God saved me from the death the morning my mother was killed, when I was in the car with her.
God saved me the day I was choked, almost to death, by an angry relative.
He was there, when I had nothing in my refrigerator and cabinets to feed my children. He showed up as a loving neighbor knocking at my door with a warm meal.
I encountered God, when my 1984 Mercury broke down on the side of the road, repeatedly. With two toddlers in tow, I began the trek home. He showed up as friends who just happened to be driving by.
God was there when a random one hundred dollar bill showed up in my mailbox with no name or address, when I thought I wouldn’t eat for the week.
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He was there my first Christmas alone as a single mom… and He was there my 7th Christmas alone.
God was there when I was beaten, homeless, and hopeless.
I’ve encountered God in a thousand ways in my life. He shows up in every season, whether we acknowledge Him or not. He is there. Every step of life’s journey leads us to an encounter with our King.
Sometimes when life has beaten us down, and we are worn out, or just tired of being disappointed, it is hard for us to see the encounters of God. Through His faithfulness in my own life, there are a few things I have learned about God Encounters:
1. Don’t fear the encounter.
We often fear what we don’t understand.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
You may be in a season when you look left and right and cannot see God. You may fear your future. You may fear what your children are going to become. You may fear that you will always be alone. You may fear your financial future. I don’t know what you fear today. But I want to encourage you that in order for God to show up and do a miracle in your life, you need to be in prime position. The problem with receiving a miracle is that you have to be in a position to get one. And none of us wants to be in that position!
God Encounters come at the perfect time, His timing, and in ways we don’t understand. But don’t fear an encounter with Him. He’s going to show up.
2. Don’t fret the encounter.
Has God ever showed up in your life? Has there ever been a time when only He could’ve answered your prayers? Of course! Then, why do we fret that He’s not going to show up this time, in this situation? Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Don’t’ worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. And then…. You will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
Don’t worry that God isn’t going to show up. You will encounter Him. We spend more of our time worrying about life than actually living life. The recipe for God’s peace is clear - do not worry about anything. Pray about everything. Tell Him what you need. Thank Him for what He’s already done.
3. Don’t fail the encounter.
When God shows up, he will show out. He will move mountains. He will bless. He will give freedom. He will replace anger and bitterness with joy. But don’t you dare fail the encounter. When He does show up, don’t you forget to praise Him all the days of your life. Don’t be a fair-weather Christian.
When God shows up for us, we get excited and thankful for about 30 seconds. But then we just add another thing to the list. We start asking Him for something else. We start looking for the next high—the next God Encounter. If God never does anything else for us, He’s already done enough. He paid for us to live in eternity with Him. He fills our soul with joy. He gives peace that others cannot even comprehend. He turns crying into dancing.
Let us all be patient between God Encounters, expectant of future ones, and thankful for the miracles He’s already done.
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Jennifer Maggio is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is passionate about encouraging women and single parents. She is a mother to three and wife of Jeff. She is author to four books and speaker. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.