Countercultural

Look Deeper, See Clearer, Run Harder

4 (False) Roadblocks to Encountering God

When you go to a comedy show, you’re ready to laugh. When you go to a concert, you’re ready to sing. When you go to a Christian conference, you’re ready to be inspired.

And when you go to church or spend time alone with God… what do you expect?

In addition to the topic of expectation, this post also marks six months until Christmas! Talk about expectation!
In addition to the topic of expectation, this post also marks six months until Christmas! Talk about expectation!

Expectation influences reality. Nowhere in the Bible do I see this more clearly than Psalm 63. David has every right to be frustrated. He’s in the wilderness, running for his life. Yet he turns to God with some of the richest words in Scripture.

Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

This is beautiful, poetic language—but it also seems foreign to us. In our day-to-day life, we don’t experience this kind of longing for God.

But what if we could? What if I told you about four common roadblocks—and how they don’t actually exist? Let’s take a look.

1. Location

Consider the stories of Zechariah and Mary in Luke 1. Zechariah gets to minister in the temple (tradition tells us this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!). You’d think his expectation would be high! Yet when he encounters the voice of God, he doubts.

Mary was at home, probably doing chores. She’s a teenager. An angel appears and brings heavenly news. Yet in this unexpected encounter, Mary responds in faith.

We put a lot of stock into WHERE we encounter God. But God doesn’t.

Mary and Zechariah teach us a lesson—expect God in all circumstances. You never know when God’s going to show up, and we need to be ready to respond with faith.

2. Circumstances

Psalm 63 starts with the description, “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.” Translation: He wasn’t at a Christian conference. He was running for his life.

I still remember the words a friend of mine said at a conference years ago. He said, “God doesn’t get spiritual highs.” We are prone to fluctuate based on our circumstances, but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

We need to begin to break the idea that God is only found in specific circumstances. God is with us in the midst of the good and the bad, the extraordinary and the mundane.

3. Knowledge

“If I just knew more, I would experience God more.”

Beware of half-truths like this. While it’s true in some regard, no matter who you are, whether you know a lot or a little about God, you have the power to know God by His grace and Spirit.

God does not have a limited capacity in your life. He has promised us everything. Listen to these words from 2 Peter 1:3.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.

We have ALL THINGS we need for life and godliness. God isn’t holding out on you. In a very real way, you can have as much of God as you want.

The channel of this power is “His precious and very great promises” (v 4). At the end of 2 Peter 1, Peter recounts the Transfiguration. For all the glory he saw, he says, that we have something more certain, the prophetic word (1:19).

Even more than a personal encounter with the glorified Jesus, we have everything we need in the pages of Scripture. Don’t miss this!

4. Emotion

According to popular culture, reality is determined by emotion.

As Peter shared, our subjective experience of God is less important than the objective truth of God’s Word. But that doesn’t mean emotion is unimportant.

C.S. Lewis gives a good middle ground. Talking about relationship with others, I’ve changed the quote by just one word to apply to God:

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ [God]; act as if you did.

We don’t like hearing, “just act as if you love God, even if you don’t feel love for Him.” Because the message we live in is, “Loving action only results from loving feelings.”

Here’s Lewis, continued,

As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love [God], you will presently come to love Him.

Emotion doesn’t always result in action. Sometimes action results in emotion.

And this is especially important as we think about our daily experiences of God. Instead of thinking, “I wish I loved God more,” we should think, “If I really loved God, how would I approach Him in prayer, in worship, in Bible reading?” And then do that.

The key is to take our eyes off ourselves and fix them on Jesus.

The roadblocks we perceive don’t exist. We have just as much potential as David to encounter God—not in the perfect location or circumstance or knowledge or emotion. No, instead, we worship from a place of confidence in who God is and who He has promised to be for us.