Hard to say.

When we come down to it, sovereign encounters with Jesus and His mercy alone change our direction, our desires, our attitude, our character. We talk about finding Jesus, but it is really more, much more, about Him finding and meeting with us. The best we can do is to present ourselves often to Him and say, “I’m here.” When he encounters us, we will be a bit undone.

Take Paschal, for example, who was a brilliant mathematician and philosopher, and completely given to developing coherent thoughts and writing scientific treatises. He was completely undone. Here is part of a document sewn into his clothing. It was found after his death. He never spoke of this experience, but it radically altered his life.

This is what he wrote:

The year of grace 1654, Monday, 23 November, From about half past ten at night until about half past midnight.


GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob–not of the philosophers and of the learned.

Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.

GOD of Jesus Christ. My God and Your God.

Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.

Grandeur of the human soul.

Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.

Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.

I have departed from him: My God, will you leave me?

Let me not be separated from him forever.

This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one that you sent, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

Let me never be separated from him.

Complete submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.

Eternally in joy for a day’s exercise on the earth.

May I not forget your words. Amen.

Paschal’s staccato impressions of a 2 hour encounter over-rode his methodical, logical mind, and was so unlike him.  This was not a God-sighting.  This was an God-ordained encounter.  From this point, though Paschal still gave himself to finding answers to the difficult mathematical problems of his day, it was secondary to God and the poor.

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