Touched by God. What does it Mean? Can it be Real? An emotion, a delusion?

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What does it mean ‘Touched by God’? Is it real? Or just an emotion, a delusion? We will look at many encounters with God, in the Bible, in history, today.  Life-changing encounters that often changed history in dramatic ways.

Hagar was the slave-wife of Abraham. She became pregnant when Abraham and Sarah became impatient with God, not believing Him really. With the strife between Hagar and Sarah, Hagar was sent away. God in the form of an angel came to her in the desert and told her to go back to Abraham and Sarah. He promised her that the son she was carrying will become a great nation and she should call him Ishmael. Hagar’s response was in Genesis 16:13 13 ‘She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” – her encounter with the living God. This slave girl’s life was never the same and her name established in human history.

After 40 chapters of Job struggling with God, after he had lost everything as an ‘innocent’, good and righteous person, he declares in Job 42:5, after God spoke to him and confronted him, ‘“but now my eyes have seen You”’ and verse 10 ‘God restored him.’ He has seen God, who God is, encountered the living God, understood more of who God is, and his life was changed in a dramatic way.

There are many reasons why people believe in God, least of which should be emotional justifications or ‘blind faith’. Are there good rational reasons to believe in God?  The two reasons why I believe in God is first, my personal experiences of His love and presence daily and the profound changes that took place in my life that far exceeds mere emotional experiences and secondly, confirming my experiences, the good evidence for His existence. The radical change that took place in my heart was not from a rational decision but in response to an overwhelming Love that became rational.

My story, my encounter with the living Christ;

Jacob with a name meaning ‘deceiver’ had to flee for his life after he deceived his brother Esau out of his firstborn right. Years later God told him to go back to the land of his birth and also face his brother. The night before he was to meet his brother, he had a dream: God appeared to him in the form of an angel and the whole night he wrestled with God. In Genesis 32: 30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face”  and God changed his name changed from Jacob – the deceiver to Israel – people who struggle with God, being engaged with God. It is often in our struggles that we meet God and throughout our lives we are engaged with the living One, struggling. After this encounter, nothing was the same for Jacob and he became the father of the nation of Israel into which the Messiah was born.

Paul. A devote Pharisee and committed to God and the Jewish religion was determined to destroy the new ‘sect’ of Christ-followers but suddenly overwhelmed by God on his way to Damascus, on his way to arrest and put Christ-followers in jail, destroy the newly formed church.  

A bright light surrounded him and his party traveling with him. Acts 9:4 ‘He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?” 5 “Who are You, lord?” Saul asked. A rhetorical question really. Paul knew who he was persecuting.

Paul had the most radical change in his life when encountering the living Christ. He later declared in 1 Corinthians 9:1 ‘Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?’ Instead of persecuting the church, he became the most famous spokesman for Christ and wrote 13 letters/books of the New Testament that profoundly influenced human history and still do.

Blaise Pascal was one of the greatest mathematicians, physicists and engineers of all time. While still in his teens he invented the first mechanical calculator – a precursor to modern computers. He created at least two new fields of mathematical research. His Law of Probability is still used by economists today. His name has been lent to a unit of pressure and a programming language. He developed the first bus route for Paris. But the defining moment of Pascal’s life came on in November 1654 between 10.30 and 12.30 at night. Often described as his ‘Night of Fire’, we only know about it because of some Words written secretly on a slip of paper and sewn into his jacket, discovered at last by a curious servant after the great man death:


God of Abraham,

God of Isaac, God of Jacob,

not of philosophers and scholars.

Certainty certainty,

heartfelt joy, peace.

God of Jesus Christ.

That mysterious encounter with God changed Pascal’s life. Thereafter he turned his intellect towards theology and philosophy. His book Pensées is widely considered a masterpiece of prose.

Martin Luther King’s encounter

One night after a particularly threatening phone call, Martin Luther King Jr got out of bed, made coffee, and bowed at his kitchen table. He was worried about his family and the burden of his responsibilities weighed heavily on his shoulders. ‘Lord/ he prayed aloud, ‘I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.’ Later he told his wife, ‘At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before.’ Martin Luther King Jr was imbued with a new sense of confidence through that encounter. In fact, his wife would later recall that it was a turning point, after which he became willing and able to face anything.

Have you had an encounter with the Living Christ?

‘You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:13

Not everyone’s encounter with the living Christ is as dramatic as Paul and others. It is however very personal and very unique and can happen in a moment but in many also over a period of weeks, months, years. Like David growing closer and closer to God over the years of fleeing from Saul, and writing most of the Psalms.

None of the people I mentioned, including myself, did not have a relationship with God prior to their encounter with God. Andrew Murray, Scottish/South African missionary and writer of at least 30 Christian books, talk about a ‘second blessing’. A rebirth. John 3: 3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. The spiritual life that Paul talks about in Romans 8, the whole chapter and specifically v 15 …you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” (Abba = term expressing warm affection and family confidence.) 16 For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Tim Keller stated that the closest we come to the true meaning of Abba is ‘daddy’ and that is what we can call our Father in heaven)

To get into such a close intimate relationship with God, we can exclaim with Paul: 21 ‘For me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 23 … I long to go and be with Christ, …’

How do we get there, experience such life-changing encounters?

Floyd McClung. Writer of ‘The Father Heart of God’

How do I follow God?

‘Ask God to show you His glory (who He is), so much that you fall

in love with Him.

After this you will do anything for Him’

‘You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:13

Tim Keller

‘Jesus the Christ asks for far more than you ever thought but offers far more than you ever dreamed.’

To be touched by God, to have an encounter with Him, is profoundly deeper than a mere emotional experience, it is life-changing and can be confirmed by the rational evidence for the truth and reliability of the Gospels and the resurrection of Christ.

Head knowledge is informative, really important, but heart knowledge transforms our lives. ‘And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit]’ Ephesians 1:18 AMP

Have you had an encounter with the Living God, Christ, our LORD and God? If not, I urge you, seek Him and you’ll experience the deepest reason for being alive.

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