"But what about you?" he asked, "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." Matthew 16:15-16
Have you encountered the living God? Have you encountered that moment when you realized that Jesus is the Christ and the son of the living God? That Jesus is alive? The God of Abraham, the God of Jacob and the God of Isaac, the living God. He is alive today sitting on the throne of Grace with Jesus, his son at his right side.
Saul who became Paul had such an encounter. He was a religious leader. He was a Pharisee and had studied much of the law. He thought he knew God and what God wanted. He just watched Stephen, a servant of God and a Christian being stoned to death. He took great pride and joy in his religious beliefs and that he was gaining ground in defeating those who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. He even thought he was doing God a service by killing these Christians. As he was heading to Damascus, he had a God encountered. God spoke to him in the midst of a bright light in the desert and asked him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul being perplexed asked, "who are you Lord?" Jesus then reveals to him, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." He encountered the living God. He met the God of all glory, full of power and might.
Have you meant this God? As for me, I meant him 12 years ago. I knew of Jesus. I knew that he was one who died to bring salvation. I knew that it was wrong to speak against him. However up until that point, I did not encounter this personal God. Out of his great mercy towards me and my lack of desire to find him, he meant me in the valley. It was the valley where I had two little kids and a stressful job, a marriage on the rocks and no strength left. My kids were not sleeping through the night. I was exhausted and tired. I had a full time job in sales that was extremely stressful and demanding. I had clients that I had to meet with all over Southern California. I could not handle the pressure and demand any more of the job, family and marriage. It was beyond what I could bear. God meant me on my road to Damascus and he revealed himself to me. I knew it was a God encountered. He told me "Anna, do not leave." I knew in my heart that I was not to run or flee, but to stay. It was not going to be an easy road, but I knew that God was with me.
God also spoke to both my husband and I that we would also have another child. His name would be Matthew Timothy. Although we had two beautiful children a perfect match with one girl and one boy, God had another plan that he wanted to entrust us with. He wanted us to have another child, a boy. Within a month, I was pregnant and had my son on my birthday which was March 13th. I hesitated in naming him Matthew, because my sister lost her husband whose name was Matthew to cancer when he was 33 years old. At the time, I did not know that Matthew meant a gift from God and Timothy meant fear of God. However, it his name was significant. He knew that this would be a reminder of God and his promises.
I would love to tell you things became easier, but the road was one of transformation. God was doing a deeper work in my life. It was one to bring healing to my broken heart, restoration of the hurt pain disappointment and distrust. He was taking my broken vessel and making me new. He was renewing me into his image and glory. He was fashioning my days to give me a hope and a future. Although the road has been bumpy, I know that God will not let me be snatched out of his hands. Although I have failed in many ways, I know he will redeem me and restore those areas. He through it all is showing me his love, kindness, goodness, mercy, grace and the ability to humble myself before the mighty hand of God.
My hope is that you will encounter the living God. The one whose goodness brings you to repentance. The one who extends his grace and mercy and the one who heals those areas of brokenness. May you experience His great love and power.