My 95 Honda Accord was once a sleek maroon ode to modern engineering. But fast forward about 20 years: a broken air conditioner, busted speedometer, and a check engine light, it had become what we call a "hoopty." I never thought much of the hoopty state in which my car existed except for when the heat of the Dallas summer lit up the inside of my maroon wonder like a dutch oven. This particular summer, we were experiencing a record-breaking heat wave with over 30 days of triple digit heat! I was preparing to drive my hoopty to the DFW airport and I knew I needed reinforcements. Having the windows down in triple-digit weather brings no solace to the Texas heat, so I filled up my bottle to the brim with ice-cold water. The heat clashed with the frigid water inside the bottle, resulting in those glorious beads of condensation settling on the brim. It beckoned me to come and drink and be satisfied.
As I reached for my salvation on this hot summer day, a still small voice told me to give that glorious bottle of water to the homeless man begging under the heat of the sun. He was exposed and suffering. As I arrived at my destination, wouldn't you know—my old faithful car gave up on me! There I sat on the side of the road, exposed, suffering and without water! A gentleman drove up to the curb and flashed a huge smile. His son sat patiently in the passenger seat. He reached down and pulled something out of a mini cooler on the floor and extended a glistening beam of hope in my direction. Yes… it was a crisp, ice cold, beautiful bottle of water. Without hesitation, he said these words to me… "I'm giving you this water because I love Jesus!"
Now I know what you may be thinking,:Christen, we don't believe in all that hippy-dippy stuff! Was this a miracle or merely a coincidence? Many of us have a natural skepticism to things that seem "out there." However, we cannot deny scripture, "Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)
To put it another way, whatever you can possibly conceive in your finite mind about God, his power and what he can do doesn't even scratch the surface. What he does and how he does it is without limits, while keeping within his divine character. If this is true, why do divine encounters make us nervous? Why are we so resistant to someone experiencing God in a different way?
John Eldredge in his book Beautiful Outlaw is famously quoted saying, "Our experience with Jesus is limited mostly by the limits we place on him." He drives home this point by telling a parable in which a man decided that the only way he could communicate with people was through a kitchen window. After some time he became so adamant about this form of communication that he boarded up all the other entryways to his home. He sealed off the doors, and even the chimney, in order to further his assumption that kitchen window communication was the only way to go. The longer this persisted, he became convinced that kitchen window communication was the only way humans could communicate, in fact, he now considered all other methods of communication to be deviant.
The rigidity of kitchen window communication is often applied to how we interact in the church. We experience Jesus in one particular way, we worship in this style, we hear sermons in that style, and sooner or later we believe that our experience is right and everyone else is wrong. This mindset robs us of the diversity of Jesus and limits our experience of his matchless power.
John Eldredge has been shamed for his extravagant and fanciful way in which he experiences the intimacy of God. One of these ways is through little God-moments in which he sees heart shapes in nature that remind him of a loving God. Surely, the Almighty, living God doesn't dabble in the silliness of creating a heart out of grass clippings simply to make you smile, right? Or does he?
Time and time again scripture tells us that God desires intimacy with us. Revelation 3:20 says, "Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me." As Pete Briscoe puts it, "Jesus might just be waiting at your front door while you're glued to your Kitchen window—demanding that he interact with you on your terms."
Let's get out of our kitchen windows and take the limits off of our experience with Jesus. Let's dare to believe what the Bible declares. Let's dare to dream about what his exceeding abundance could look like! You never know, maybe he'll send you your own heart shape just to reinforce his love for you. Or maybe you will experience the Living Water granting you a bottle of water on a hot day. When I think about my own God moment, with this bottle of water, I can't help but be blown away by the limitless power of our Creator God who cares enough about me to perfect all things concerning me even to the smallest detail. What a playfully imaginative God we serve!
Read more from Christen about expriencing God here:
The Sacrament of Everyday Life
My First Romanian Orthodox Christmas
Depression and Spriitual Emptiness