When I first started pursuing God I thought I would find Him in a big event.
I started my journey with God about 12 years ago at the ripe age of 16. Since I was an atheist up until that point in my life (and didn’t have a satisfactory encounter with God up until then), I figured that God is probably somewhere out there and I have to find Him. I felt a need to put forth a good deal of effort in order to find Him and figured that encountering God would probably happen in some big way: some big ministry event/conference, some big missions movement, and something emotionally or intellectually stirring. I read dozens of books of philosophy and theology, attended every Christian conference I found, prayed between 1-3 hours a day, and participated in outreaches on the streets.
A 2 month short term-missions trip in Cambodia during 2013 topped off my collection of encounters with God. In Cambodia, we witnessed people who had never heard of the name of Jesus encounter God through supernatural healing, dreams and visions. We witnessed a prison of 200 prisoners turn itself into a church as each prisoner encountered God, was baptized in the prison, and started a bible study in every prison cell.
After a series of adventures, I realize that while God may have been a part of those big events He wasn’t in them.
As I take a minute to reflect on life and dream of what may be ahead, I find that I’m not looking for my next missions trip, ministry opportunity, outreach or power encounter. I find that as great as those things are they are empty in and of themselves.
In other words, while what we believe to be spectacular spiritual experiences or events may help us encounter God, the external events themselves are neither God, nor where God dwells.
Instead, I find that God is far greater and much more personal.
I find instead that God is far greater, and in being far greater He exists apart from what we may consider otherworldly or spectacular. In existing apart from these things, I find that the real substance of our walk often comes in the form of a whisper as He did with Elijah. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
What I’ve realized is that I can’t grow in my walk simply by going to or doing the next big God thing. A relationship with God is instead, often built through the slower and more mundane moments of everyday life, prayer and connection with community.
It’s always been easier for me to do rather than be: be with God, be with others, and be with myself. Doing is visible; it’s measurable and easier than dealing with the messiness of our own vulnerability, people, family, and relationships. “Doing”, or busyness rather, is also surprisingly empty apart from well-developed personal growth and relationships.
In the midst of trying to understand what I should do now to further grow in intimacy with God, especially in such a chaotic and volatile world, I find Him reminding me to be rooted in who I am in Him, to walk with Him, to grow in my love for everyone before me, and to respond to the world out of the knowledge of the greatness and goodness of God.
Twelve years into my walk with Jesus and in a world that seems ever chaotic politically, economically, and culturally, I’m finding that my key to spiritual growth is not found in my next big experience, but rather in the quieter moments of listening to God. Moments where God reminds me that: He is in control, that I am His beloved son, that God is working things together for the good, and that I am on His mission.