Run no. 20 – First, untie your shoelaces

shoelaces tied together

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’ 47”

In my running with God this morning, I was musing on the different ways in which people encounter God.

In my life I have met many people who have encountered God in many different ways.

One person, a lady, told me that she encountered God in a moment of intense crisis. Her teenage son was hanging between life and death and she was understandably distraught. Then suddenly she felt a deep peace come over her, which she knew to be God and she just knew, in the deepest part of her being, that her son was going to be all right.

For several days it was still touch and go whether he would survive. After the crisis past there were many long months of painful recovery, but he did finally recover and now lives a fully normal life, with only his scars to remind him of the event.

This experience of God led, several years later, to the lady coming to faith and joining the Church.

Another of my favourite faith stories happened to the Huron warrior Ahatsistcari in the 1600s. This renowned fighter realised one day that his survival, after so many battles and conflicts, was nothing short of miraculous, and that he would have been dead long ago were it not for God’s blessing and protection on his life. He knew that this God who was blessing and protecting him was not one of the gods he already knew from his native religion, but some unknown God. He swore to only worship this unknown God from that moment on. Every morning and every evening he would pray to this God whose name he did not know.

When Jesuit priests came to tell the Huron people about Jesus, Ahatsistcari recognised Jesus as the God whose name he did not know.

The missionaries were somewhat reluctant to baptise him, as his understanding of the faith was still somewhat sketchy. However, he gave such a brilliant defence of his faith in this God whose name he did not know, that they finally relented.

The reality of Ahatsistcari’s faith was soon proven, as he and the other Huron converts started to radically transform their lives and behaviour in line with the values of the gospel message.

Ahatsistcari also faced the ultimate test of his faith when he was captured and cruelly tortured. As he died he prayed not for vengeance but for his captor’s forgiveness[1].

These stories remind us that the Holy Spirit is infinitely creative in the ways in which He speaks into our lives, revealing God to us and drawing us into a relationship with Him.

However, it is also true that the Bible is still God’s primary means of bringing us to an encounter with Himself.

The Old Testament is the record of God’s self-revelation to a people He Himself brought into being, as a locus for His self-revelation to the world.

The New Testament is the record of God’s fullest and final revelation of Himself in the God-Man, Jesus Christ, and of the first years of community of those who believed His message and followed Him.

However, the Bible is more than an historical record; it is also a living breathing, vital thing. The Bible is not a matter of dead letters but of living words.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.[2]

As we read the Bible we encounter the Author and in a real and personal way.

So to seek an encounter with God, whilst ignoring the Bible and the community that exists to share the message of the Bible (the Church), is a bit like going for a run with your shoelaces tied together.

Want to run with God? First untie your shoelaces.

[1] Read Ahatsistcari’s amazing story for yourself in Thwaites R.G. (ed.) The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents – Travels and Explorations Of The Jesuit Missionaries in New France 1610-1791, Vol. XXIII 1642-1643, CLEVELAND: The Burrows Brothers Company, 1818, p25ff accessible online at http://archive.org/download/jesuits23jesuuoft/jesuits23jesuuoft.pdf

[2] Hebrews 4:12 NIV

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