Friday, January 16, 2015

DEVOTION: Encountering God and Elephants ~ by Karen Rees

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

When I was a child, my parents saw a poster announcing that a traveling circus was coming to a nearby town. They decided to take my brothers, sister and me. Our excitement grew during the days of waiting, the final preparation and the long drive to town. I was especially eager to see a performing elephant.

We arrived at the field where the circus should have been. It was empty. My parents had gotten the date wrong.

Some days later my parents drove us back to town. This time the circus was there, and I encountered my first circus elephant.

My experience with the circus taught me that enthusiasm alone won't make an encounter happen. I must have correct information and use it correctly.

The Jews in the New Testament illustrate a similar lesson. They were zealous for God, but they looked for him in the wrong places, in the wrong ways and with the wrong attitudes. Because of this, they ended up rejecting God when he came in human form. (Romans 10:1-3)

Today we still need correct information used correctly if we want to encounter God. Thankfully God himself has provided all the information we need in the Scriptures. Besides telling us about himself and Christ, he also tells us about salvation, the Church, holy living and many other doctrines. In fact, reading the Bible is the best and most trustworthy way to encounter God.

But what kind of encounter are we looking for?

I went to the circus because it sounded exciting. I wanted to be entertained and to have a good story to tell later. I didn't go to join the circus.

Many of the people in the New Testament followed Jesus to see the miracles and to get free meals. Jesus provided them with all the excitement of a circus. When Christ started asking for real commitment on their part, they went home. They weren't interested in that kind of encounter. (John 6:1-2 & 66)

Some people today are looking for a “circus” encounter with God. They want to be entertained and made to feel good. But when God starts telling them to change their attitudes or behavior, they decide it's time to go home.

God gave us the Scriptures so we can have an encounter with him that will change our lives. He gave us the Scriptures to teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16-17) This is the encounter God wants to have with us.

OVER TO YOU: What kind of encounter do we want to have with him?

KAREN REES, with her second-generation missionary husband Benjamin, has served in Hong Kong since 1975. Besides her involvement in the mission work, Karen loves history, quilting and writing. They have two children, Matthew and Megan, and two grand-children, Hadessah and Arthur Aaron.

Her historical fiction novel, The Ruby Ring, won a Finalist Award in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards in the Religious Fiction category. It can be purchased in paperback or eBook from and many other online bookstores.

Visit Karen on her author page on Facebook.
Watch her book trailer, The Ruby Ring Trailer.


  1. Karen, great words. So true how we try to form the relationship with Jesus that works for us and doing create our own image of God. As you say this is why the Word is so essential as it reshapes us and gives us the truth about Jesus.

    Thanks for sharing with us all.

  2. Human nature has always tended to replace the God of the Bible with man-made gods. It's a temptation we all have to guard against.

  3. Thank you for contributing once again to our Friday devotional slot, Karen. I love the message you bring out of this story.

  4. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.

  5. That is a very good point. It breaks my heart to see people so eager to encounter Jesus, and then when it isn't what they expected...they leave.

  6. Unfortunately, being a missionary, I've seen this happen a lot. All we can do is to pray for them.