Lake Arthur is flat and gray, and the life I breathed in here when the October tree line burst forth in color seems to be a distant memory. The hills roll lavender beneath a ashen sky, and I selfishly pray for just a glimpse of blue overhead. Winter in western Pennsylvania is bleak.
I close my eyes and ask God to speak to my soul. I ask for an encounter. I ask to be filled.
In the silence, a startling truth shakes me from all my asking: God wants to fill each of his children as we radically encounter his love, but meditating in silence, waiting for shocking revelations from the sky is not the primary means. The primary way God wants us to encounter his love is through the written words he brings to life in the Bible.
When Darrell and I were in the early stages of love, we wrote long emails to one another. Our emails bridged the gap between us while he finished his undergraduate degree in Maine and I taught special education in Pennsylvania. We poured over the words, cherished them, and fell more deeply in love as we expressed our innermost thoughts.
Imagine Darrell writing messages that went unread and sat unopened in my inbox. Imagine if I occasionally skimmed his words for encouragement but turned a cold shoulder to really basking in what he wanted to tell me. I would be missing the kind of encounter that would draw me closer to his heart, help me know him more, and lead me to greater depths of love with him.
This is what I do when I leave my Bible unopened on the nightstand for weeks and months on end. This is what I do when I scan it only occasionally, when I need a chunk of inspiration or truth. When I don’t open his written Word with the expectation of knowing him more, going to deeper places in his love, and encountering him, I miss the most satisfying encounter of the human existence.
While encountering God in my ordinary life includes a myriad of possibilities – seeing his love through my children, observing him in nature, hearing whispers of the Holy Spirit in my daily life, and encountering him through friends and strangers – there is a daily invitation to encounter him through the words of Scripture. I don’t have to sit along a misty lake, take a weekend prayer retreat, or travel to a developing country on a mission trip to encounter God’s love. He wants me to commune with him every day through his written Word. Like Darrell’s emails, it is his love letter to his beloved bride.
As emotional creations, we tend to get caught up on emotional experiences. God wants us to encounter him in emotional worship experiences and captivating encounters, but the life of faith often means walking faithfully, even when life feels mundane and unemotional. It means reading the Bible day after day simply for the sake of sinking our roots deeply into the truth of who God is. When our roots are deep, we are more satisfied in our daily lives because we’re constantly reminded of God’s attributes.
Here are three of God’s most compelling attributes, as found in Scripture. Encountering these attributes is nothing short of encountering the ravished heart of God himself:
God’s heart is ravished when I simply glance in his direction (Song of Solomon 4:9).
When I pause my daily labor and look toward God, when I silently ask him for wisdom during a conversation with a friend, or when I quietly acknowledge his goodness as I prepare a meal for my family, his heart is ravished. This must be the single most astonishing facet of God’s character: Human beings have the capacity to ravish his heart! Encountering his ravished heart is the most satisfying experience of the human life.
God is faithful to me, even when I’m faithless (2 Timothy 2:13).
When I blow it big time, my automatic response is to turn from God and hide. Adam and Eve know all about this one. Their first response after inviting sin into the world was to hide from God. How silly. But I do the same thing when I refuse to turn to him in prayer after snapping at my child. I do the same thing when I go to bed without seeking his face after a night of eating my feelings. However, even in my faithless moments, God remains faithful to me. He promises not to leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6). It’s his promise for you today too.
Nothing can separate me from his love (Romans 8:38-39).
No attack from Satan, no failure on my behalf, no season of wandering can separate me from the love of God. Even when I’m not feeling his love, even when things are falling apart, even when I’ve stumbled into a life of apathy, his love remains. His love is an anchor for my soul. If we could begin to grasp, on a deeper level, the height of his love for us, we would be forever changed.
I close with an invitation today. The God who created you is calling you to encounter his love. He’s calling you to go deeper into his written Word and come to know him more. If it’s been a while, the Psalms, or the book of John are good places to start. He is waiting for you to come close.