I had an encounter with God this weekend.
Our church is involved in a spiritual growth campaign called “RESET”. We’re borrowing it from Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is really pretty good and I highly recommend it. Each week during RESET, we’re given a different “challenge” to complete.
One of the things we were asked to do during this past week’s challenge was to participate in the “Prayer Experience”. The Prayer Experience is a series of 12 or 13 “stations” that you walk through while listening to a message on an MP3 player. Upon entering each area, or room, you click next on the player and listen to the narrator explain the intent of this particular area. The experience you have while there is strictly between you and God, even if other people may also be in the room at the same time. Each individual moves at their own pace, advancing to the next “station” whenever they are ready. One station leads you through the church auditorium, others lead you through small rooms or areas sectioned off by black curtains.
I went early Saturday morning and found myself to be the only one there.
Some things I have been dealing with lately involve fear, doubt, and feeling insecure about some things. Often times I wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” while dealing with some particular daily experiences.
During the Prayer Experience Saturday morning, God reminded me that He is still right there with me, and is in control of everything.
As I entered the third “station”, the one titled “IDOLS”, I noticed a wicker basket full of gold coins. (Don’t worry, they’re all cheap plastic coins, so no one will try to steal them). Each coin was imprinted with a symbol (a harp, praying hands, etc.) and had a scripture verse on the back.
I pressed “next” on the MP3 player and the narrator began to explain the meaning of this particular room. As he spoke I noticed another small basket which contained pieces of bread, and a box of toothpicks next to it. Beside the baskets of coins and bread, there was a sign that said to take a few coins and a piece of bread, and as you listen to the narrator, you’ll discover what to do with them. A few, to me, means three, so that’s what I tried to pick up.
I reached into the coin basket and picked up a few coins. When I looked in my hand, I counted four plastic gold coins. I didn’t really believe I would use all four coins and figured I could put one back in the main basket before I left this room. I used a toothpick to pick up a small piece of bread and made my way into the main part of the room.
In this room, I saw several brick pedestals with more wicker baskets on them. Each basket already had many coins in each of them and the front of each pedestal bore a sign which described a common misconception or belief you may have, or have had, about Jesus. The instructions were that if you thought you needed prayer in this area of your life, or if you basically need to hit the “Reset” button concerning your thoughts or beliefs about Jesus, then as you are praying (talking to God) about it, toss a coin into the basket, indicating that you are turning it over to Him.
As music now played on the MP3 player, I took my time reading each sign, and carefully, deeply and prayerfully evaluated where I stood on each issue. And I tossed a coin into a basket, and then another, and so on.
When I got to the end of the row of pedestals, I had tossed one coin into five different baskets. Five. A chill ran up my spine. I looked back across the room to where I had started and remembered that I had only picked up four coins from the first basket.
It was then that I also noticed that I still had one more coin in my hand. As I looked at it, my body began to tingle and my eyes began welling up. Through the tears, I read the verse written on the back of this coin. It was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”.
I had been conversing and listening to God the entire time, feeling Him, as it were, so I thought, “Okay Lord. I get it. I give it all over to you.” All of my cares, my worries my fears, my insecurities, I turned it all over to Him. I remembered the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and stared at that piece of bread on the toothpick in my hand.
Nothing happened with the bread, so when the narrator said to eat it, I did. I looked again at the coin still in my hand and said, “I’m keeping this one”. I put the coin in my pocket, left the room and proceeded to the next station.