Raw Encounters

During my week at North Carolina Wesleyan College for the YTI Program, I saw and experienced Heaven on Earth.

It was past bedtime on a Thursday night whenever my leader realized some students were outside of the dorms. She left our conversation to bring my peers back inside. Instead of getting the students and coming back, Paige stayed outside. I was called to see what was happening, and was shocked to find my peers gathered around a gazebo crying out to God! Shouting, praying, tears, conviction, and broken addictions were all around me. My brothers and sisters in Christ were being moved by God’s Holy Spirit powerfully. It was dark outside and many people in the dorms were already asleep. We all should have been asleep too, but God had a raw encounter planned for us.

Encounters with God are not perfectly packaged, but, instead, fully raw. Encounters with God happen when we least expect them to. They are not tied up with bows and ribbons. They are hidden treasures.

There has never been a night more miraculous than the night Jesus was born.

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”Luke 2:1-20

Jesus chose a young engaged couple to be His earthly parents. His mom who was a virgin was made by Him. Jesus placed His human life inside the hands of a woman He created. He left His royal throne to make His home among brokenness. A palace was not prepared for Jesus’ birth. Rather, Jesus was born inside a stable. His tiny body was placed inside a manger. Jesus was and is full of humility. He, who created all people, came to Earth to die for their sins.

Innkeepers neglected the opportunity to host the birth of Jesus Christ. They were focused on numbers, making money, and reservations for ordinary people, while they rejected the son of God. They did not make room for Him because their rooms were already full. 

What do we need to remove from our lives to make room for the King of Kings?

The most miraculous moments happen when we least expect them to.

Are your eyes open to see God? Have you ever experienced a raw encounter with Him?

God wants us to be real, not perfect. He is the only One who has been or will ever be perfect.

Instead of trying to make things happen on our own, we must listen for God’s whispers and be prepared for raw encounters.

God will bring clarity to our chaos, healing to our grief, peace to our storm, and answers to our questions in His own timing. We must seek Him as our highest priority, and leave our burdens in His hands.

He is in us all that we cannot be on our own.

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Merry Christmas, my sweet friends! I am praying your days will be filled with meaningful prayer, meditating on God’s Word, enjoying family, learning to rest, and having raw encounters with God.

With love,

H

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