The Story of “Encounter”

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

1 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

Back in the fall of 2018, LIFE Fellowship was undertaking a series of teachings expositing the typology and significance of the Tabernacle in the book of Exodus. I remember sitting in a meeting with the pastors of our church discussing the title of the series, and the name “Encounter” was birthed for its relevance towards our desire to see people truly encounter the living God, much the way the Israelites did in the Tabernacle.

Then, as the meeting continued, our founding pastor, Bobby Conway, asked me to write a song for our church that exemplified the truths found in the Tabernacle and their symbolism of Christ. This task intimidated and excited me as I dove into researching the relevant subject matter and prayed for God to give me the words needed to magnify such beautiful truth. I pictured the majesty and awe of encountering God in the Holy of Holies, trying to fathom the gravity of being in the physical dwelling place of Yahweh.

As I continued writing the song, it became deeply personal as I reflected on the way God convicted me as a sinner, showed me His glorious Son slain on the cross for my iniquities, and graciously brought me to faith at the beginning of that same year. As a young believer still working out what it meant to walk with God, I felt unworthy to write this song, but my love for Him led me to ask the Holy Spirit to lay the words on my heart as I sat longingly in front of the piano. God had placed a mission on my life: to worship Him, use my gifts to do so, and be as helpful to the body of Christ as I can. I am so blessed to have such a purpose revealed to me.

I would like to take you through the lyrics of the song and talk about each section as it relates to my ongoing testimony and walk with Jesus Christ. I hope that the song will be edifying to you for your own worship and devotion.

I’m undone by the word, the Logos as flesh, I kneel in reverence

I submit to Your will and yield to the promise, a final sacrifice

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 ESV

The realization that Jesus was the Son of God and the Word through which all things were made brought me to my knees. My need for a savior had been made known to me through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and back in February of 2018, God saved me. When I was converted, I sought out God’s promises and devoted myself to understanding His will. Despite my moments of hardship, struggle, and disobedience, I vowed to cooperate with His work in and through my life and run to Him constantly because of His faithfulness.

The promise that was sweetest to my ears was that of Christ being the final necessary sacrifice in God’s divine plan. The Israelites spent thousands of years sacrificing spotless animals for the forgiveness of sins. In the Passover and the Tabernacle, this practice was instituted by God as a type and shadow of the greater Lamb and sacrifice to come.

All my iniquities are cleansed beneath the heaviness of holiness

I bow before the veil that was torn and in faith my obedience is Yours

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 ESV

I distinctly remember Pastor Dan Burrell saying, “We need to discuss the heaviness of holiness.” That stuck with me, as it put into perspective how incredibly fearful and reverent it must be to be a High Priest entering the Holy of Holies to encounter Yahweh.

The blood of Christ washes us clean of sin, even the sin we committed a moment ago. It’s taken me so long to truly grasp the gravity of that. I wrestle deeply with it even to this day, wondering how God could love us so much and be so merciful when He is also holy and would be just to leave us in our sin. Yet He spared not His own Son so that we may be reconciled to Him. This combination of holiness, grace, and love is so profound and wonderful. What a glorious revelation this is! I pray for my obedience to spring forth from the joy cultivated from this truth.

Let me encounter You, Emmanuel, there on Your throne, the Holy of Holies

Here in Your golden house, make me a light in the presence of God, the author of life

The redemption will come in the fullness of Christ the Lord

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16 ESV

I chose to refer to Christ by Emmanuel here, as it seemed to fit the imagery of God being with His people physically in the Holy of Holies very well. I long to encounter God throughout my life here on earth, and eventually in heaven. I sent up a prayer through the chorus of this song that I would be sanctified through meeting with God in His word and through prayer, and that I would be transformed from within to shine the light of Christ for His glory.

The truth is, I’ve struggled with a lot in my life and even in my walk as a believer. I’ve fought old addictions, depression, self-condemnation, difficult trials, and spiritual warfare throughout my journey. I am so thankful to God for showing me that He has been there the whole time caring for me and holding me up amidst all of it. I desire to know Him fully. I desire to walk more and more in line with His word each day. It’s an overwhelming thing when God shows you that His grace and truth are sufficient. He did for me 14 months ago and continues doing so to this day. Now as I continue to fight the good fight, this song stands as a testimony of where I long to be, in His house. Let us put our hope in Christ alone!

We are gathered in awe, a joyous observance of perfect majesty

We conform to the truth that You have revealed to sanctify our souls

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

The gathering of the Church has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I’m so grateful for the people of LIFE Fellowship and the believers who prayed for me and cared for me when I was lost. They showed me that God truly works through people as they submit themselves to becoming a vessel for His love.

Now having joined the body of Christ, I stand among you and praise our God for the miraculous things He has done for us, observing His truth and majesty with adoration. I watch the Holy Spirit move not only in my life but the lives of other believers around me. He graciously conforms us to the image of Christ each day through perseverance, discipline, love, grace, and community. It’s such a blessing to have a strong group of believers at our church to experience that sanctification with.

Lord, take my heart of stone and make it flesh, You clothe me in righteousness

My fallen ways were conquered by grace in the moment that Jesus was slain

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

I grow tired of trying to scrub the outside of my flesh clean and appear presentable when I know that I will always fall so short. I grow tired of mistakenly trying to earn salvation through my performance when I know in truth that God has already done everything necessary. These struggles with working to be right with God play into the struggles I mentioned above.

The good news is, His justification through Christ’s righteousness is all I will ever need, and I can rest and be glad in that! The blood of Christ washes us white and makes us a new creature. I am so astounded by God restoring me and regenerating my heart so that I long deeply to be like Jesus and be with Him, but I also believe that because of His sacrifice, even when I fall short, those sins are paid for.

No treasure on Earth will satisfy against the weight of sin unshackled

So I will offer you my life

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21 ESV

As my walk with God continues, He keeps opening my eyes to the vanity of the world, and the toils we endure for temporal pleasures. He calls me to fix my eyes on heaven and His son, enthroned there at the right hand of the Father. He calls me to meditate upon the weight of eternity and salvation, and find my peace and joy in the fact that Jesus came to die for us so that we may live life more abundantly, not just here on Earth, but in the life to come. God is helping me grasp the fact that there is truly nothing to fear but the Lord, nor a treasure greater than being reunited to Him.

Under Your grace, the blood of the Lamb vanquished the grave with one atonement

So I will follow You, my Christ

The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Exodus 12:13 ESV

The art I chose for Encounter is a symbol called the Paschal lamb, which is a representation of the spotless lamb commonly sacrificed in Jewish Passover festivals. The gold represents the adornment of the Tabernacle, and the red represents the blood of the Lamb.

The symbolism of the Lamb’s blood is pervasive throughout the Old Testament as a means for the cleansing of sin, but the cleansing of Christ’s blood goes deeper. It purifies us from within and covers us for all eternity from the judgment we deserve. We know that God has sent the final sacrifice for sins to establish His new covenant with us, and we praise His Holy name for this reality!

The grave has been conquered, God’s people have been forgiven, and on this Easter Sunday, we get to reflect upon Christ’s resurrection and the amazing gift of faith to follow Him. It was an honor and blessing to write this song and work with so many amazing people to release it as a single to you, our wonderful church. Thank you all for the innumerable blessings and gifts you’ve shown me in my time here so far.

I pray that the words we have written and sung reflect Your beauty and truth. It is a testament to the amazing work You do in our lives. Let the song edify others and help them to encounter You. I pray that this song glorifies You, Lord. Amen.

Encounter is now available for listening on most music platforms, as well as here on the blog!

“Encounter” Credits

Jason Lanier – executive producer, vocal
Alex Nicholson – writer, producer, guitars, bass
Josh Brahm – piano
Kevin McMurray – drums
Jonathan Hole – engineering

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