Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Encounter

Written by Kahaita Collins
(used with permission)

I remember the night that God presented Himself so clearly. Although I never expected what happened that night, God showed up and I remember thinking how much I didn't want that moment to pass. I did not do much that summer, but that was a moment I will never forget.

            Earlier that Friday evening my friend Jaylen came to visit me in Fort Wayne. That day the sun was setting, but peaking just barely over the top of the trees. The sky was a beautiful bright orange and the temperature was just right. He took me to a restaurant called Smokey Bones. I remember before we entered the restaurant, the smell of barbecue smacked me in the face. We walked in and our waitress took us to our table that was located directly in the center of the dining room. I was never one who enjoyed being the center of attention, so being in that restaurant made me feel slightly uncomfortable.

    As we sat at the table waiting for our dinner, we talked about about our summer break. When we shared our stories, it felt as though we had not conversed in a while. While Jaylen told me all about his break, my eyes began to wonder. There was a couple that sat at the table next to us and they were dressed like they had come from a wedding ceremony. The woman had on a nice black dress with perfect makeup and the man had on a black suite with a purple vest. On the other side of  our table was the bar where no more than ten people sat. There were several kinds of alcoholic beverages there and they covered the entire counter top. The bar tender poured one drink after another, at times, barely looking to see what she was doing. I could tell she had been working there for a while and I was surely amazed at her skill. The customers, sitting at the bar, earnestly waited for their drinks, mouths watering like a child waiting thirstily for her mom to bring her a sippy cup after a full meal. Finally we were done eating.

    When we got up to leave, I could feel the stares of the people as I walked past, so I was refreshed when we walked out of the dining area. After we left Smokey bones, we got into Jaylen's gold-ish brown, 1998 Honda civic to head to Bible study. By the time we left the parking lot, the sun had already disappeared and I could see the moon beginning to come out as I looked up to the sky. As we drove through the streets of Fort Wayne, contemporary Christian music played loudly on the radio. All of the windows in the car were down and the wind came rushing through undoing my ponytail. There was a long road that led to our destination; off to the side of that long road, were fields that were pitched black and I could only see the silhouettes of the trees. That night was the last Bible study I could attend before it was time for me to go back to college for the semester, so I was excited to spend some time with my brothers and sisters of the group.

    We then pulled into the apartment complex and Mary, the teacher of my Bible study, watched out of the window waiting for us to arrive. She invited us in but as I tried to walk into her house, I could barely get in the door because I found three little children attacking my legs screaming, “Hi Kaycee!”  The aroma of freshly baked bread was all I could smell. At her kitchen table was the rest of the group, waiting for the food to get done so we could go through our regular routine of eating and talking about our struggles and successes of the week. I sat at the table, right in between two of Mary’s children as they used the spoons and forks to fight as super heroes and bad guys. Mary was in the kitchen in the process of making pizza for the group. She is a Caucasian woman, about five feet nine inches tall, with short light brown hair that only falls to the back of her neck. I love her. She lit up the room with her great big smile. Having a spirit sweet enough to cause a cavity, she was one of the first women God put in my life to provide a spiritual covering over me. She prayed for me, gave me advice, and a place to stay when I needed it. Mary even introduced me to the Gospel and explained it in a way I had never heard it before.

            The food was finally ready and we all made our plates. I wasn’t really hungry because Jaylen and I had eaten at Smokey bones. I remember it being my turn to talk about my struggles and successes of that week. The struggle for me that week was that I needed direction and guidance on what God wanted of me. My success was that my school was paid for and I was all ready to start my semester off without any financial problems. Once everyone was finished eating and sharing how their week went, Mary started the message.

            Seeking God’s presence was the main topic of the night. The way Mary spoke about what God had showed her convicted my heart. She fought so hard to hold back the tears, but one drop at a time, they fell from her face. She felt so passionately about wanting God more than her next breath. She took us to the scripture in the Old Testament in reference of how the priests would go through a long process of getting themselves equipped before they could go beyond the veil to the Holy of Holies in God’s presence. That process is called the anointing. She talked about how God showed her that the churches today rely so much on the anointing, getting dressed and smelling good for the Lord, but not going beyond the veil. Then she began sobbing. That moment was the start of something I would never forget. I could tell God was present in that place because emotions were high and some people were crying while others looked as if they were in deep thought. I knew that God's word had to cut into her before she could teach it to us. From that moment on my life was transformed from those few, but very deep words.

            God instructed us to pray. Mary asked the group if anyone needed prayer and if we did, now was the time to make the request known. I asked for prayer first. My heart raced and I started to get sick to my stomach. It literally felt like someone had taken my stomach and stepped on it. I had no idea what was about to happen that night but it was as if I felt it coming; I didn’t know what but it was something. I saw Mary go to her kitchen to get her bottle of praying oil and a red sheet. I remember asking, “What is that for?” Mary told me that the red sheet symbolized Jesus’ blood covering me. So she covered me with the sheet and the group encircled me with their hands as Mary put oil on my head. She started praying in a language I couldn’t understand. I got even more nervous when she placed her hand on my stomach asking God to give me more. For some reason, I was always scared of what God would do. I always thought if I ever experienced God’s presence I would probably start speaking in tongues or falling out. No, not that night. God was so manifest that night that I started to get more relaxed as Mary prayed for me. I wanted God and whatever He desired to do in my life.  Then it happened! I tried to hold it back as much as I could. His spirit fell and my stomach started burning. I always describe it as doing sit-ups for a long enough time that one could feel the burning sensation of the muscles being put to work. I closed my mouth tightly, yet pushing out air. I tried to hold back but God wouldn’t let me. I opened my mouth and laughed. I was overwhelmed with the joy of the Lord. I sat on the floor laughing for about five whole minutes. The others in the group had already started praying for someone else, and left me there. That was something so unexplainable; no words can describe what I felt that night but it was amazing.

            From that day on, seeking God’s face became the motto for my life. After having a little taste of what it is like, I craved more of Him. I couldn’t just stop at that point in my life, I needed more of him. No other summer could compare to this, as this was the best I had ever had. I remember when we were done praying, I left Mary’s house that night in a hurry to get back home so I could immediately get back into prayer. I thanked God so much that night, for giving me something that I had always wanted, Him. That was the moment I would never forget.