An Encounter With Jesus

September 03, 2019 | Church | Minervino Labrador Jr.

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were active in church, and they gave me every opportunity to build a strong relationship with Jesus. But as a teenager I began to drift from God.

In spite of my rebellious lifestyle, the truth of God’s Word was still planted in my heart. One day, some of my friends asked me to participate in some Santeria rituals. I refused. I knew about the cosmic warfare between good and evil and wanted nothing to do with the kingdom of darkness. But I had walked away from God’s protective covering, and I was vulnerable to the forces of evil.

Not long after, I had a vivid dream. A creature was chasing me through the foyer of a church with my arm clamped in its mouth. My father stood at a distance, asking what was wrong, but he couldn’t see what was attacking me. However, Dad began to pray for me as I was being tossed around on the floor by the beast.

Suddenly I awoke from my dream with a start. Wide awake, I lay in the dark paralyzed with fear. Evil eyes peered at me from the darkness of my bedroom. Instinctively, I grabbed the loaded gun from my nightstand. My first thought was to shoot but quickly realized that you can’t hurt spiritual forces of darkness with the weapons of this world. My second thought was to shoot myself — because I was scared to death.

Thankfully, another thought came to my mind. Fumbling for the phone, I dialed my parents’ number. “Dad, I need you to pray for me.”

My father had been praying for me all his life. He had never forgotten the time I had almost died when I was little and how he and mom dedicated me to God. They had high hopes for me.

Now my father slipped to his knees again to pray in the Spirit on behalf of his son. Almost immediately spiritual protection arrived.

As I lay in bed with Evelyn still sleeping by my side and my baby boy safely tucked between us, I became aware of another presence in the bedroom — a being so glorious that I dared not turn my head to look at it.

Then I heard the argument for my soul.

“He belongs to me,” the evil angel asserted.

I shuddered, and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I never planned to slip this far away from God. Satan was seeking to claim me as his own.

“He was dedicated to Me, and he is Mine,” the heavenly Messenger replied.

Satan, however, wasn’t going to yield his ground that easily. “But I’ve given him everything he has. He belongs to me!”

The response from the heavenly Messenger remained the same: “He was dedicated to Me, and he is Mine.”

There was a pause in the argument. I realized I had a choice to make. Would I continue on a course leading to destruction, or would I accept salvation? That night I chose to surrender my life to the Living God.

You never forget an encounter with the most holy living God. My encounter with God has continued to shape and guide my life for more than 30 years.

Do you remember your first encounter with God? I certainly do and am confident His Holy Spirit is moving among people today and working in lives today just as He was in the Bible times.

John Chapter 4 records a divine encounter not unlike my own. Jesus is heading to Galilee and passes through Samaria. This is an area Jews didn’t normally frequent. In fact, most of them would have gone the long way around so they could avoid Samaria completely.

It’s about noon, and Jesus is tired so He takes a rest at Jacob’s Well. Notice what happens when the Samaritan woman encounters Jesus.

Verse 7 says, “A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.' For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?' For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”

Just like I was startled by the divine presence in my bedroom, the Samaritan woman is surprised to meet Jesus. For one thing, it’s noon and she’s probably not used to seeing anyone at the well. Most women would have come to the well in the morning or in the evening. She had good reason to want to avoid being there with other people. She’s also surprised because He’s a Jew.

Most Jews wouldn’t have interacted at all with her because they would have thought it would make them unclean. Jesus is not only interacting with her, but He’s asking her for water. He’s not worried about being made unclean by her.

When we encounter Jesus we come with our own expectations. But He has His own plan and it’s often different from ours … and always better.

We may expect Him to answer our questions and instead He just gives us more of Himself. We may expect Him to guide us to a specific plan He has for our lives, but instead He reminds us to simply seek Him first and everything else will follow. We may expect Him to take certain sorrows or troubles from us, but He instead tells us to trust Him and wait patiently.

John records Jesus’ answer in Verse 10:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

"The woman said to Him, 'Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.'

"Jesus said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'

"The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.'"

When the woman encounters Jesus, at first she’s never heard of Living Water. She doesn’t know to look for it or hope for it. She doesn’t know to ask for it. But Jesus introduces her to hope. As soon as He explains it to her, she’s all in, even though it seems she doesn’t completely understand what He’s talking about. She’s now the one asking for a drink.

Think about the time in your life before you knew Jesus or maybe after you knew Jesus but you were wandering or struggling. During those times, did Jesus ever reveal something to you that you didn’t even know you needed?

Following her encounter with Jesus, something powerful happens to the Samaritan woman. Verses 28 to 30 say, “The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 'Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' Then they went out of the city and came to Him.”

Her encounter with God becomes a commission. She can’t sit still and must take action. As Jesus is talking to His disciples, she leaves the water from the well and goes to her neighbors. Her experience with Jesus drives her to invite others to come experience the Living Water too.

I pray that, like me and the Samaritan woman, your encounter with God is driving you to share His love with others. God calls us to lead people to Jesus so they can experience His overwhelming love and power in their lives.

When we accept God’s commission in our lives, doors of opportunity swing open for more divine encounters to occur. Scripture is packed with such moments. Just like Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, we have been given the same holy commission.

As we look forward to Jesus soon return, my prayer is that you will join me in praying for one more: one more baptism, one more visitor to our churches, one more Bible study, one more student in our schools, one more friend with whom we can share our testimony.

When that prayer is answered, join me in praying for one more again — one more encounter with Jesus.