His presence was so tangible, I can’t even explain it. Sometimes these things are easier to experience than they are to explain. I literally felt His arms around my shoulders in an embrace. The weird part was that my friend had somewhat started prophesying and singing about His presence and love, moments before this experience.
I grew up in a Christian home and was introduced to Jesus quite early as a result, although this did not automatically translate to experiencing His realness. For as long as I can remember, I had always nursed a hunger for more than I was experiencing.
I was the all-around ‘good’ child. Had very little time for frivolities which stemmed from a moral upbringing not necessarily because I experienced Jesus’ realness.
We (the church I attended as a child) had our unique practices. I grew up not celebrating Christmas as we believed it was a pagan ceremony polished to look Christian. I believed in a few other things as this which never added one bit to my intimate knowledge of Jesus. This taught me a valuable lesson, that you can do a lot of external things as a believer without proper knowledge or understanding of this Jesus.
At some point, it felt like we younger generation lived in a different reality from the adults. They experienced a realness to Jesus, we just went through the motions. I was a good kid who never understood what the whole Jesus thing was about yet seeing some others experiencing a realness to Him.
Hence, I experienced several moments of hunger, hunger for something more, something real. And I found this while I was in the university. First, I met a group of ‘strange people’ – that’s how it really feels when you’re on the outside. When you find people who experience certain realities in Jesus that you don’t, your initial reaction may be one of fear, which arises because you can’t understand what you see. These people lived out all I’d heard about since childhood.
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I was with them for four years and this brought the reality of Jesus closer home. If being with such a group doesn’t do you any good, it at least stirs up your desire to know Jesus.
In the beginning, my relationship with Him was still just external, I went to church, went for meetings, read my Bible, had morning devotions and all but no intimacy. At some point in 2015, I prayed to Jesus to bring me to my knees. And He did.
I became dissatisfied with attending church meetings, I just wanted to experience Him.
I almost gave up on the whole church thing but Jesus showed up right on time, and I got to experience Him in ways I never had.
First, there was a camp meeting. On the third day of the meeting, something snapped. I experienced an outburst during prayers, and I literally couldn’t stay still, it took about two people or so had to hold me down. I didn’t let it end here, I wanted to know what that meant. So, I asked Jesus what all that was for.
Up to this point, I hadn’t really been confident about hearing. But I asked. I was in my room when I asked this and as soon as I did, I felt the presence of an angel. This was new, but I was so certain of this presence. He had a jar of oil in his hands, which was poured on me. These things were new yet too tangible for me to shove away in disbelief.
When I felt this oil being poured out, I asked what it was for and he told me. He told me, and I may not share for now. But I’ve seen the effect of this play out in my life.
This was only the beginning of the experiences, and it birthed a hunger for more. And more I did get. But in my desires for more of the experiences, He cautioned me. I often found Him making genuine attempts to take my eyes off the supernatural experiences and encounters and just focus on Him. At some point, He caused the encounters to cease, being intent on dealing with my heart, the bedrock of all our pursuits. This made me see a different face to the love of God, how that when we stray in our desires for good, He checks us. He can be our catalyst and moderator if we only let Him.
I had other experiences. My hunger for Him made me go to the school’s mountain to pray. Apparently not because Jesus only lives on mountains, no, the mountain just seemed like a great place to pray, it helped to be away from the distractions of life and just focus on Him.
Jesus’ Presence and Love
I remember once when I went with a friend, His presence was so tangible, I can’t even explain it. Sometimes these things are easier to experience than they are to explain. I literally felt His arms around my shoulders in an embrace. The weird part was that my friend had somewhat started prophesying and singing about His presence and love, moments before this experience.
Since that day at the mountain, my intimate moments with Him often leave me in tears.
His embrace that day meant a lot, probably because that was one of the most intimate gestures from Him up until then. The experience was new, so, experiencing Him that way gave me a renewed consciousness of His presence and love. It also birthed in me this desire to continually encounter Him, to literally see Him.
I kept visiting the mountain alone to pray towards the end of my days at the university. I just enjoyed spending my free time there with Him. And as the Bible says, “you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 4:29) He responded with more tangible expressions of His presence.
Once, I was praying on the mountain still, and I could feel His presence beside me. Here’s what I wrote in my journal after this experience:
It’s amazing to know He finds delight and pleasure in me, in being with me, in spending time with me. He looks forward with joy to the times when I come before Him wanting fellowship. I’m wrecked by this understanding. I never want to lose sight of it, for if I do, life will lose its meaning. I was created for love, to be loved by God and to love Him back.
There are moments when He makes me laugh. I remember a few weeks ago, I was lying on my bed and speaking to Him, then I said something like, “Jesus, You’re amazing, but I’m sure You know that. You must have heard it from a lot of people already.”
“Yes, but it sure is nice hearing it from you,” He replied. This made me laugh so hard.
Jesus really is real. My journey with Him has gone from mere religion, where I did things after the manner of my upbringing, to a place of relying on Him for life.
He can become this to you if you seek Him from your heart.
– Iyintoluwa Bakare
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