Surprising spiritual encounters that led to the strength and courage to do God’s work.
Posted in , Nov 9, 2020
“I’d be surprised if anything mystical ever happened to me,” we might say. Save that for the really holy folk. But when I consider some of the mystical moments that happened to people in the Bible, they seemed to be just as surprised as any of us would be. Take a look.
1) Moses encounters the burning bush.
Moses is there in the wilderness tending his father-in-law’s flock and God appears to him and speaks from a burning bush. God identifies Himself, saying, “I am who I am.” He has a job for Moses. To lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
Moses is sure that God has chosen the wrong guy. He asks for proof. Why trust a burning bush? God turns Moses’ staff into a snake. His hand is made leprous then healed again. Even then Moses feels inadequate. And yet ultimately does as he’s called to do—with the mystical moments only multiplying (the parting of the Red Sea, manna in the wilderness, the seven plagues, etc.).
2) Jeremiah is given God’s words.
Jeremiah is another reluctant prophet. “I do not know how to speak,” he says when called by God, “for I am only a boy.” Then God puts out His hand and touches Jeremiah’s mouth. “Now I have put my words in your mouth,” God says.
Prophetic words, profound ones, holy writ we still read. Public speaking can be a big fear for many of us. Would that we could trust, like Jeremiah, for God to put the words in our mouths!
3) Jonah is swallowed by the whale.
Jonah was so resistant to doing what God wanted him to do that he got swallowed by a giant fish and sent to Ninevah, exactly where he didn’t want to go. He learned his lesson, though. When he arrived, he did God’s bidding.
God changed him, turned him around, and that can be a key to any mystical experience.
4) Jesus appears to His disciples on the road to Emmaus.
The Resurrection had come about and later that day Jesus walks with two of His disciples as they’re headed to a village called Emmaus.
They talk with Him. It’s a seven-mile journey. They discuss all the things that had happened to Jesus, how He was crucified and died and how the tomb was empty, all the while never recognizing their Lord. Arriving at Emmaus, they ask Jesus to stay with them. Only then, when He is breaking the bread and blessing it, do they know who He is. And in an instant He vanishes.
Sometimes the power of a mystical moment can’t be felt until it is over.
5) Peter is released from prison.
The Apostle Peter is thrown into prison. He is bound with chains and sleeping between two soldiers. Other guards are at the prison door, keeping watch over him. How is he ever going to escape?
Then an angel appears and a light shines in the cell. Peter is awakened, the chains fall off his wrists. He is told to fasten his belt, put on his sandals and leave. He hardly realizes what’s happening to him—he thinks it’s a vision—but does as he’s told. He passes the guards, the gate to the city opens. He is free. What happened to him took him totally by surprise.
Makes me think there are moments out there, ready to take us all by surprise and lead us to places we would never expect to go, doing God’s work.
Editor's Note: In the original version of this post, Peter's release from prison was said to have happened to Paul. We regret the error.