The closer I get to knowing Jesus the closer I get to knowing myself.
I thought about this topic a lot in 2013. Most of my life I had no idea who God was. People would ask me quite frequently what denomination I was, but I could never answer them. Truthfully, I never knew what any of that meant. I just knew people were calling themselves Christians, Catholics etc.
But I guess my question for a long time was, “What am I?”.
Everyday I get asked how does one become closer to God. Although I don’t have one specific answer to give you, I can share some of my own personal experiences with God and my very first encounter of His presence.
My Mom grew up very religious. I can remember her telling stories about how many times she would have to go to church and all the things she couldn’t do. It always made God seem like He had a lot of rules and regulations. I can remember seeing my Grandpa reading his bible on this one specific red chair in one of the spare bedrooms at their house, but I never understood. I never really even knew what the bible was or what any of it was about. God who?
I always remember my mom telling me and my brother that she never wanted to put pressure on us to have to go to church and that it was always up to us what we wanted to do or believe in. Therefore, I never had any kind of guidance. I never knew Jesus existed so I definitely didn’t know He loved me. I didn’t have anyone speaking into me anything positive. The thing about it though is that when you grow up a certain way for so long, you don’t know any different and you just think that this is the way that it is supposed to be.
Skipping ahead quite a few years to my early 20’s is when I started to know God fully existed. My cousin and I really started to form a strong bond and one way we strengthened that bond was to go on bike rides. We would go on out about once a week to ride and just catch up. One specific day she sat me down at this old picnic bench and asked me if I was saved. No lie, I remember butterflies flying around us. My life, from then on has been forever changed with a simple question. Now, don’t get me wrong I didn’t have any crazy miracles happen. Nothing inside instantly changed. It has been a process. Getting to know Jesus is not a destination,You don’t stop. It is a lifelong process. That was my very first encounter of His presence.
Ever since that question I have had a desire to get to know God, to understand who He was and what He was about. I wanted a closer relationship with God. It is not always exactly easy trying to believe something that you can’t necessarily see, hold or touch. I fully believe though that you can feel Him. I started with just reading my bible almost like it was part of my to do list. It wasn’t really a part of my heart yet to desire His full presence. I started going to church with my cousin which quickly became a routine. It just felt like it was what everyone else did, like the “right” thing to do. I was constantly being challenged by my cousin to grow. To get uncomfortable in specific areas of my life, In a good way that is.
It took me about 4 years to really understand what grace is and to understand how much love God has for me. Last year, 2013 was my year of growth with Him. I wanted to pray all the time. The more I read from my heart not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to, the more He filled me up with His love. I was finally realizing that it was not about what I could do for Him, but that He just desired a relationship with me. It is not about showing up on Sunday and then leaving Him out the rest of the week. When I don’t get time alone with Him or get a chance to get filled up with His presence I become vulnerable. I know way too many people who tell me, “Yea, I know Jesus. I grew up in church and I believe in Him.” That’s awesome, don’t get me wrong at all. He loves anything we do to get closer to Him. BUT when I ask people if they have a relationship with Him I typically get a puzzled look. A look like “what the heck does that mean?” True relationship comes from the heart. Just like you love your earthly Mother and Father. Just like you desire attention from your significant other. It is all about the relationship. Can you imagine being with your friends or significant other all day long but never talk, never say thank you, never experience good times or bad times? We can experience this all the same with our Heavenly Father, but ONLY if we allow Him to invade our hearts. He wants to bless us. He wants His children to be happy. Wouldn’t you want your children to be too?
My point in saying all of this is that just like relationships take time, growing in God will also take time. Talk to Him in your bad times, good times, lonely times and all the times in between. Don’t just pray for something and expect it to happen then get mad when God doesn’t “come through”. Don’t blame Him for our own ignorance and misunderstanding. He always has better things planned and knows what is best for us. JUST LIKE YOUR EARTHLY PARENTS. I emphasize this because your heavenly Father loves you even more than any one on this earth could.
I challenge you to spend some alone time with Him today. Just talk and just rest in His arms.