Radical Life-Changing Encounters

I was very touched when my wife and I went to visit Mrs. Sontrop, the teacher of our daughter Elizabeth. Mrs. Sontrop has been teaching at that school for over 20 years now, and she is an amazing lady. In fact, when we left the parent-teacher interview that day, I felt as though something was missing. This was a Christian lady. I had thought that perhaps I might want to pray with her. I wasn’t sure. But there was another interview to attend. We had to hurry, and so I didn’t really have a chance to think it through.

I wasn’t very alert at the second parent-teacher interview. My mind was still on Mrs. Sontrop. Why did that first interview have such a lasting impression on me? It was because of the purity of this person. She was a woman filled with God. It was hard to find a person filled with God like that. No, she wasn’t jumping up and down. That’s not what it means to be filled with God. To be filled with God means that you are submitted to God. You might jump up and down on occasion, but the predominant characteristic of a person who was filled with God was not that. It was a heart thing. Mrs. Sontrop was a woman after God’s own heart, and that was the thing that had its lasting impression on me.

I was moved. Deeply moved. I was so moved that it affected something very deep inside of me. In no uncertain terms, I had had an encounter with the living God. It was the living God inside of Mrs. Sontrop that I had had an encounter with. No, this wasn’t just an emotional thing. It was a real thing. And it profoundly impacted me. After the second interview was over, I prayed and began giving God thanks for Mrs. Sontrop. “Dear Lord, I thank you for this woman. Praise God for her. Thank-you for years of faithful service. Thank-you for bringing a woman like this to this school! We need more people like this here! Bring more, Lord!” I could feel the presence of God in my heart and I began to be deeply moved. I wept.

God’s healing power swept over me. I was being radically changed over that one incident. It was just a “mere encounter” but the effects were radical and profound. The Holy Spirit was “in” that encounter. The Holy Spirit was part of it. He had his hand in it, and he used it to impart his love to me in a way, perhaps, that I would not have received otherwise. God knew my deficiencies, and God used that encounter with one of his servants to “impart” to me a radical blessing. It was received! Mrs. Sontrop was a clean and dedicated vessel, fit for use in the Master’s kingdom. That was why God was able to use her like that in my life. It was powerful. We had only met for a few minutes and had not discussed spiritual matters. But the effect it had on me was very clear.

I had had a similar experience like that with another anointed and clean vessel by the name of John Raymer a month or two before that. During that encounter, John had asked me how I was doing, and again, the Lord had deeply impacted me through that encounter. It was a radical love encounter, and I knew that it wasn’t just John loving me. It was the Holy Spirit inside of John who was doing his work. The similarities between Mrs. Sontrop and John were easy to spot. Both were sanctified vessels, fit for use in the Master’s kingdom. Both had a passionate love for Christ and were committed to serving him at all costs. These were people set apart for God’s kingdom. And it was very clear that God was more than willing to use them to change people’s lives – even if perhaps they themselves didn’t know that they were being used to do so at the time.

As with Mrs. Sontrop that day, the experience I had had with John only lasted a few moments but it had had a life-changing impact on me. It caused me to literally weep, as God’s love swept over me in no uncertain terms. What had happened? The love of Christ was so strong in these people that it literally had a life-changing impact on me. But don’t get me wrong. I’ve had encounters with these people before, and I have not experienced such life-changing results. In both cases, the difference was simply God’s timing. This was God’s time to change me through them. But make no mistake about it. God chose them to do his bidding – not others. God delights to use people who are submitted to his will. He could use anyone, but it brings him more glory to use those who are set apart for his kingdom.

Will God do it in me and you? Yes. But give him time. And pray.

Please pray with me.

“Father, I thank you today for using people to change my life. Thank-you for using people who are committed to you, for that brings you more glory. Thank-you for those godly people who have so influenced me. Lord, be pleased to bring along more, that I might become more and more like you. For it is in Christ’s name that I pray. Amen.”