The topic for today is experiencing God's love. Without a profound encounter with God's love nothing of the Christian life makes sense. However, once a person has experienced such an encounter, then everything makes sense, and what was once a chore becomes a delight.
The good news is...that there is always more. Whatever we have encountered of God's love, there is always more for us to encounter, and in new and deeper ways.
It stands to reason that the experiences of God at the beginning are usually powerful and life changing. As we grow and discover more about this God who loves us, those times of sensible encounter decrease and the times of encounter that are beyond feelings increase. For many people the hardest times are in the lengthening periods when the presence of God seems absent. But they are necessary, because how else do we and God find out whether we love Him for Himself or because of what He does and can do for us. When the testing times are over, He invites us to deeper levels of encountering His love.
In the testing times relief from the aridity of personal prayer comes from four sources, group prayer, lectio divina, time sitting with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and time spent with those who are suffering – either as a companion or in service to them.
So what are these encounters with God like?
Some are like everything at once, tears of joy, laughter, repentance, dancing, adoration, singing, amazement.
Some are a personal message with or without audible words, usually at unexpected moments. Change of direction and vocational calls can frequently be like this.
Some feel like a collapsing kaleidoscope where a whole manner of different things suddenly fall into place with astonishing clarity, and this confirms that you are in the right place, at the right time, for His kind purposes.
Some contain burning, tingling, and physical healing.
Some come in the form of visions and dreams of significance.
Some experiences we should be a whole lot more grateful for than we usually are…the ones where He lays a precise finger on the parts of our lives that are displeasing to Him as an invitation to ask His help to clean them up through His mercy and pardon.
Some are like a sensation that all barriers are gone and prayer is effortless and going straight to the heart of the Father.
Some are more external when the realisation happens that God has arranged everything 'just so' and the outcomes could have been much, much worse, and that you have been saved from those greater layers of disaster and that the outcomes have several unexpected silver linings.
Some can be profound encounters through a near death experience.
But whenever you go seeking encounters with God, or try to replicate the conditions under which the previous encounter took place….nothing happens. We can most certainly ask Him for an experience of His love, but we need to let Him be God and let it be in His chosen time and place and not when we think it should be.
We certainly love the extraordinary manifestations of God's love, who doesn't? But there are many ordinary manifestations that we usually overlook on a daily basis; the gentle breeze that refreshes and lifts your spirits, the beautiful bird that caught your eye and lingered for a while, the gift of a good night's sleep, an unexpected extra kindness or tenderness from a child or spouse, the unexpected meeting in an out of place location with someone who had been on your mind, the gift of meeting someone truly holy.
Evangelisation is meant to help people open up their hearts to God, so that He can encounter them with His love. Catechesis only makes sense and becomes fruitful after a person has had a profound encounter with God's love. Prior to that encounter you may as well have been speaking a foreign language to them.
So let's pray, firstly for a loved one, and then for ourselves.
Heavenly Father, I bring before You ……………….. He/she has yet to experience Your love, otherwise You would be the number 1 priority in his/her life and not the last on the list after many things more important and urgent to him/her. Only You can quieten down the other voices in his/her life long enough for Your cry of love to break through. Please tonight, tomorrow, sometime during the week ahead, grant them an experience of Your love that will transform his/her life. Please grant them all that he/she needs to respond wholeheartedly to You, and to place his/her life completely at Your service. Amen.
Dear heavenly Father, I know You exist, I believe in You, but it feels so long since I experienced Your love at the life-changing level. I want that. Thank You for being active in my life. I really appreciate how You have been taking care of me and my loved ones. But I feel like I am surviving on empty fumes. The exterior proofs of Your love are amazing, but my heart longs for something interior, deeply personal and profound. Please tonight, tomorrow, sometime during the week ahead please break through my darkness and let me experience Your everlasting love in a new and fresh way that leaves me amazed. For the sake of the people who You are bringing into my life who need to hear how You are acting now and not the barely remembered yet much treasured encounters of past decades, please come. I give You permission to show Your love to me in any way You desire. Amen.