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Blog Author: Terri Pattio
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH GOD
I spent most of my life as an atheist. I saw religion as something that only the uneducated believed in. The whole story of Jesus walking on water sounded just silly to me. Before I met God, life was good. I had a wonderful family with two kids and everything seemed perfect. However, every once in awhile I caught myself thinking, "Is this life really everything? Is having kids and a family everything life is?" I felt a deep longing in my heart for more but I didn't know what it was or what to do with it.
One day in December 2003, a colleague talked to me about Jesus and Christmas and then later gave me a Bible. I initially resisted this conversation but then suddenly in my mind it was like time stood still and I was shown every instance when kind people had tried to share about God and I had mocked. I resolved not to respond that way this time. This decision began an intense, single-minded three month quest. I became possessed with one single desire...to know if there is a God and what it would mean to me if there was. Day and night I thought about only this.
One day I was reading in John. I don't remember what I was reading but I began spontaneously crying. I said to myself that this unconditional love and acceptance is what I'd unknowingly been looking for my entire life. I knew my eyes were opened to something I didn't know. From that moment on, I felt a strong drawing on my heart. I started crying quite often for reasons I couldn't explain.
On March 27, 2004, I cried all day. At 10:30pm I went to bed and I continued sobbing until 3:40am. Tears flowed continuously until my whole pillow was wet. I was shaking and trembling. Finally I couldn't hold it anymore and I got up and went into the bathroom. I found myself on my knees before the unseen, powerful presence that I became suddenly aware was in the room. I couldn't see him physically but with all I was I knew that the Almighty One stood before me. As an atheist I had believed in extraterrestrial life that had technology that was up to a million years ahead of us. This was the utmost in my imagination, something that seemed quite high and advanced. But when He stood before me, I instantly knew that was joke. I knew that I knew that this Being before me was above all. No one was above Him. Then I heard him loudly speaking inaudibly and with great authority, "Mike, I want you to live." The words reverberated through every cell of my being. I questioned in confusion, "Am I dead?" He declared, "You're taken from the ground and will return there. You're like a flower on the field. The wind will blow and you will be no more and nobody will be reminded on you." I already was crying with much sadness, but when I heard these words, I was utterly undone. It was the ultimate checkmate. I realized deep inside that God really existed and I said to Him, "I acknowledge that you exist and this Jesus exists too and that walking on water is not a big deal to him." At that moment I knew that He could do all things.
All of the sudden I saw that I went my own ways and that I didn't know him. I said, "I see that I went my own ways. I see that I didn't know you. Please forgive me. I want to know you." As soon as I said that, it was like a light switch was flipped. Immediately everything changed. All of the intense sorrow that had deeply saturated my soul vanished and deep peace, great joy, and love for everything saturated my whole being. I could hardly contain it!
I found myself back in bed. Nearly immediately upon laying down, strong waves of energy like rings moved up and down my body like a scan. It was almost painful and definitely uncomfortable, but I felt peace because I knew it was coming from God. This continued for several minutes.
Then I was aware of being in a dark room. I saw light approaching this closed room. Its rays shone around the door frame and especially under the door. The door opened and this light flooded the dark room. I saw dust particles crystal clear in the room. At the same time my physical heart started tingling. I understood that the doors were doors to rooms in my heart, doors that I opened for Him to come into. This went on for awhile. Doors were opened one after another. But after awhile, a discomforting thought creeped into my head. "What if He finds something I don't want him to see, something I'm ashamed of?" The whole scene stopped.
After that, I felt an overlapping. God was showing me His mind and heart, how He thinks and perceives. I was totally in awe. I said to myself that I could not bring myself there nor maintain that for one millisecond. I perceived then that He was offering this way of thinking and living to me but I insisted that I could not maintain it for one millisecond. I thought that if I was given it, I had to maintain it and I knew that this was utterly impossible. I dismissed it.
After this faded, I found myself in a garden with Him. Everything was extremely colorful and alive. It was in the evening and everything alive came to me. I felt as if God was showing off His new son. His eyes were on me and He was delighting in me! I even felt as if I was glowing more than Him, which was irritating to me because it made me the center of attention. I recognized that no being was afraid of me. Everyone was excited to see me! So I focused on something that looked like a bird and thought about how I wanted to see it close. Immediately it landed on my finger. After that I found myself back in my bed and I slept the two remaining hours before my alarm clock woke me up for work.
When I arrived at work in the morning, I began excitedly telling everyone that I met God! I loved everything and everyone. God was still extremely close. I felt His presence and heard His voice loudly in my thoughts, more real than any physical audible conversation. I could easily perceive what people around me were thinking. This strong awareness of His presence went on for six weeks. It began to diminish in the face of the distraction of intense opposition that rose up immediately from everyone I knew.
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