Monday, March 17, 2008

Another weird day on the beach

Pastor Joel says God is a God of justice, and I need to walk uprightly so I can see His face.

I feel pretty comfortable with how upright I'm walking, although every single one of us is working this salvation out daily, so let's all get holy together...agreed?

Pastor Joel says upright people will see God's face. I sure look forward to that. He goes on to say that God wants to reveal himself to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

I haven't seen God's face yet, but I think I have seen His glory.

Several years ago I attended a church men's retreat at a beach house on Galveston Island. The weekend-long retreat included Bible studies and prayer meetings throughout the day.

Because of the number of men attending, my condo on the seawall served as overflow housing at night. Several men, including the church pastor, stayed at my place and we would drive to the west end of the island each morning to join the others for breakfast and to get filled up on the Word and the Holy Ghost.

One morning, I had an experience with God that I will never forget. After everyone had cleared out, I locked up my place and jumped in my car with a couple others I was taking back to the beach house.

Somewhere along the way, the tangible presence of God entered the car. I actually felt God in the automobile with me. If you've been in Christ for any length of time you know what I'm talking about. I knew God was up to something.

When we got back to the beach house, I told the others I was taking a walk on the beach. I didn't know what God was doing, but I wanted to bask in it for a few minutes and see if he had anything to say to me.

I walked on West Beach for what seems liked 30 minutes toward the San Luis Pass area. What began as a feeling, grew. The only way for me to describe what I experienced was that at some point I began to see something over the water. With a blue sky above me, it looked like a mist started rolling in over the sea toward the beach. This went on for 10 or 15 minutes as I walked. Yeah, it was interesting. I believed then, and still believe to this day, I was seeing God's glory (confirmation in just a second).

When I finally got back to the meeting at the house, I was understandably pretty excited about what God was going to do the remainder of the weekend. And I do remember it being a powerful time in God.

Everyone was getting prayed for and getting these amazing prophetic words. When the visiting minister got around to praying for me, I was sure I was going to get some kind of incredible, life-changing word that would set the course of my future and forever change my life.

Well, it was a bit different that what I was expecting. In fact, it only consisted of two seemingly unrelated sentences. He whispered in my ear:

"He's got big plans for you."

And, "He's protecting you."

He's protecting me? What did that mean?

Looking back on it now, he gave me just what I needed for the days and years ahead.

I could have opened my Bible, however, and found similar scriptures. Why did God feel the need to fortify those messages to me at that time?

I knew I'd had a very real experience with God on the beach, but I didn't really understand what was it was all about. Certainly experiencing God's presence in that manner is not completely unique, but what good is an experience like that if I don't take some deeper meaning from it?

And had I imagined it? It just seemed too real for me to chalk it up as my imagination.

The explanation from the Lord seemed to come months later, as I was in the home of man holding a Bible study. This man knew nothing about what I just described to you.

After we discussed God's word that evening, he said he wanted to pray for the group.

He began to pray in general for the people there in his home. Before he wrapped up the prayer time, he said something like, "Guys, I believe God is showing me something that I want to share with you. I'm seeing something in my mind. I don't know what it means, but maybe it will mean something to one of you:

"I see a man walking on a beach. I can't see who you are, because I can't see your face. But I see waves of God's glory washing over you. God says those are waves of His blessing that he's going to send over your life. One after another, I see them coming in over the water."

By this time, as you can imagine, I am just beside myself. I want to jump up and yell out, "Hallelujah, I receive it!", but I kept quiet and called him later that night to share the story I just shared with you, and how he had nailed it.

Why did I have that experience? Because I believe at times God gives us experiences in the spirit that fortify the truth of his word in our lives. The purpose of the prophetic, according to Paul, is the "exhortation, edification and comfort" of believers. (see 1 Cor. 14)

There have been many times since then that the "He's protecting you" part of that word have become intregal for me staying confident in difficult situations. I mean, the Bible clearly states that God's protection is a benefit of knowing Him, but when a visiting minister whispers it in your ear shortly after you met with God in an seemingly Biblical way on a beach, it certainly solidifies the idea in your heart an mind.

When I think of that experience, I wonder about how incredible it will be to actually see Him face to face, and experience first-hand a power and glory so intense that we won't be able to stand in the presence of.

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