By Tom Savage
Several years ago, I read through a work by Henry Blackaby entitled, Fresh Encounter. It seems in these days it would be good to review and relay some of the things our Lord said to me in that timeless treasure.
Down through church history, God has often used an individual or a small group of people to bring about a life-changing movement. These people believed God is the answer to issues and dilemmas. He wanted to have a fresh encounter with people, and He desired they wanted a fresh encounter with Him.
Let’s think of the phrase fresh encounter and how often we use the word fresh. There is fresh fruit, fresh breath, fresh air and the desire for a fresh start. Maybe that fresh start is the opportunity to enter a new job or a new career field. It is always good to be given a fresh start with each new day. As pastors and leaders, we seem to always be entering new endeavors. We are planning those now.
To enhance the idea of a fresh start, let’s take a moment to consider the opposite of fresh. How about rotten fruit, molded bread, bad breath, stale air or body odor. Let’s don’t go any further with that.
When we talk about a fresh start we are talking about a new beginning; starting something new. We could think about a new life together as a couple after a wedding, a new ministry or a new ministry position. How about a fresh new relationship with God that begins the moment of salvation? Do you remember what that was like? When we are saved, everything is fresh and new. Bible study is great, songs at church really touch our hearts, we are excited to be with the people, and we look forward to going to church. If we lived in a “happily ever after” kind of world, that would be great. Everything would continue “happily ever after.” But we don’t live in that world yet; at least most of us do not.
The idea of freshness and then staleness can happen in Christian life. Life happens. Families have difficulties. A couple who were once deeply and passionately in love with each other and thought they could not exist by themselves, have a fight, in fact, have many fights, and they separate. A new job becomes a j-o-b and you must make yourself go to work. That fresh start now tastes like old bread.
Suddenly or over a period of time, the newness and freshness with God have worn off. God seems far away. There is no joy in Bible study or Bible study becomes non-existent. We quit singing in church. Rather than thinking “we get to go to church today” the words are more like – “we have to go to church.” We might even stop going to church altogether. Maybe something like that is where you were before COVID-19.
In this situation, the Christian life has deteriorated to a thing we must do. We still profess to be Christians but, there is no power, no passion, no anticipation, no expectation that God will do something new. God save us from ever sinking that far.
Some of the things that need to take place when something new becomes old and laborious is, something good needs to happen, a fresh coming together or a fresh start needs to take place. We need a fresh encounter with God. Many people have found that and are finding that these days.
When we feel dry spiritually, what do some people do? They may go to the bookstore or shop online for a new book from the hottest author. Before the coronavirus, they might have planned to go to a new conference, retreat or workshop. Maybe a new discipleship class. That should do it. Right? What do we need? We really need a fresh encounter with God.
As we bring this to a close, let’s think of the word encounter. What does encounter mean? What do you think of when you think of or hear the word encounter? Maybe you think of coming face to face with someone or happening onto someone or something unexpectedly. Take a few minutes and look up these verses of Scripture (2 Chr. 7:14; Jer. 33:3; James 4:8-10) and have a fresh encounter with God. Have a great day in Him!