Encountering God is the most unexpected places and times

God revealing himself to JacobPeople often experience God in the most unexpected and unusual places!

I imagine there are just a host of stories out there of God-encounters in unexpected places! … I’d love to hear ‘em. Here’s just a few I’ve heard: Encountering God while committing a crime, in a suicide attempt, during a frightening fit of anger, in a close call or a near death experience.

Saul, later renamed Paul the apostle, encountered the resurrected Christ while on his way to arrest and murder Christians. He certainly was not expecting to meet Jesus Christ! Read about it in your Bible – Acts 9:1-18 and his personal testimony about it in Acts 22:1-21.

Peter and Andrew – James and John powerfully experienced God while they were on the job – fishing and mending nets (Matthew 4:18-22)… even after a frustrating night as professional fishermen during which they had caught nothing (Luke 5:1-11; John 21:3-8).

Zacchaeus, a very rich man who had gotten his wealth by cheating others, was hiding in a tree (possibly curious about Jesus, but hoping to escape the Lord’s notice) and Jesus stopped right at the foot of his tree, looked up, and called him out… “Come down Zacchaeus! I must be a guest in your home today.” (Luke 19:1-10)

But the unexpected God-encounter that captured my attention today was in the Old Testament. Jacob had taken advantage of his brother, Esau, offended him, and cheated him. His brother was so angry he was plotting to kill him. Jacob was running for his life. Panting and out of breath after a day as a fugitive, Jacob finally fell down on the ground and made a rock his pillow. A fitful night of sleep ensued… Suddenly out of the darkness there appeared a stairway reaching from earth to heaven – angels were going up and down the stairway – at the top of the stairway… GOD! Instead of judgment – a blessing! A renewed covenant! Jacob woke up with a start! He exclaimed, “SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE AND I WASN’T EVEN AWARE OF IT!” Jacob did when many have done when they’ve had experiences with God like that… they remember the time and place! They memorialize it! They make a solemn commitment of their life to the God who revealed Himself to them! Jacob did! He called the place “Bethel” (which means “house of God)!” And he vowed to honor God’s claims on his life with the first portion (a “tithe”) of all he would ever possess! (Genesis 28:10-22)

How about you? Have you ever had an experience – an unexpected encounter – with the Living God! What was your response? Did you mean what you vowed to the Lord? Have you kept your commitment?

Never had it happen yet? Be on the alert… God may encounter you in the most unexpected time and place! He is the business of revealing Himself to people in times and places like that. After all he told those who saw how he revealed Himself to Zacchaeus, “The Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost!” You can’t get away from Him – He knows where you are – He can find you and reveal Himself to you in the most unexpected times and places (if you doubt it read Psalm 139:1-11)!

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