The longer I live the Christian life, the more certain I am that knowing God personally is the key to everything we ever hoped would become of the decision to follow Christ. Experience tells me the enduring joy, strength, wisdom, abundant life, and peace Jesus promised cannot be produced by human effort. At least, I could not manufacture it. It was when I grew tired of striving for these things that I gave up in desperation, and cried to God, “What am I missing here?”
The Lord answered my cry, quickly. Not merely in words, but in marvelous coincidences, thoughts permeating my night hours, and a unique Christian that didn’t seem to suffer from boredom, dryness or doubt. His answer led me to abandon my human efforts and invite God the Spirit to fill me up entirely. It was humbling, and a little scary. For about five minutes.
This was the beginning of a truly interactive relationship with the Spirit of God. He changed everything, and my love and wonder for Him grew deeper every day. It wasn’t about me trying to be a good Christian anymore; it was about stepping into a relationship with the most wonderful Being ever.
To this day, over 30 years later, I still marvel that the perfectly holy and all-powerful creator of all things, wants to share Himself with me, after all I’ve done before and after salvation that should have horrified Him away from me forever. But He won’t leave. He never stops offering His unconditional forgiveness, or His tender love and encouragement.
Personal relationship is the Lord’s plan to heal, father, and teach His children. It is the means by which his Kingdom will be established. Knowing God is the highest joy we have on earth, and the means by which every Bible promise is fulfilled. It is how we end up with abundant life instead of lifeless religion.
Tasting God’s Goodness
I have tasted the Lord in wondrous, flawed, challenging and satisfying ways since He won my heart in 1979. Experiencing His goodness in daily life IS my joy, my strength, my rest, my wisdom, my hope and my inspiration to keep trying when I fail. I could never produce those things on my own; they come with HIM. Jesus said it like this when he prayed to the Father:
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”John 17:3
Neither Jesus nor other New Testament writers ever spoke of this life beginning only after death. Eternal life begins for the believer the moment he or she joins to the Lord. We easily assume “eternal” life refers to life after earth, but it really simply means what it says: life that never ends. I believe the seed of that life is planted the moment a Christian become one with the Lord.
Everything that we could pack into a definition of abundant and eternal life — satisfaction of heart, nourishing relationship, the wisdom and power to fulfill our potential — flows out of knowing God.
The Purpose of Faith
Everything written beyond the Gospels reveals we were not given faith to just believe IN God, we were given faith so we could live our lives as a response to His very presence — Emmanuel, God with us. Millions believe in God and in His son, and are taught all about God; too few actually extend that faith to getting to know the God who lives right in them.
Faith is absolutely necessary to approach God in true childlikeness, believing it really is His pleasure to give the kingdom to his children, that we are really accepted by Him. It takes faith to believe the Holy Spirit is our constant companion, is directing our hearts, and is revealing God’s thoughts to us.
My book, They Will All Know Me, explains that our salvation is actually a covenant that calls us to know God. In this covenant God promises He Himself will make it all possible. It contains stories of my own experiences in knowing God.
I heard long ago that someone with an experience is not at the mercy of someone with an argument. In other words, you can’t talk me out of what I believe, because I’m living it. I’m even close to being a perfect Christian, but I know my God. No doubt I know mere fraction of what is knowable about Him, but that fraction is a tree of life to me. I enjoy my God. I never, ever feel alone.
The Scriptures first gave me hope in such a life, which is why I insist Christians should read the Word of God, and read it all. God has laid His heart bare in those pages; to neglect the Bible is to neglect God’s heart. Not to mention it robs you of vital life-changing truth.
The Calling of Every Christian: Know Your God
The Bible consistently validates that sharing life with God is both a privilege and a calling. In fact, to “live worthy of the calling” means we must act on what God is truly offering, and not shrink back in fear or doubt. The Biblical writers assure us that God delights in the one who comes boldly, who seeks to know and taste of God; that He is not pleased with the one who is timid, fearful or otherwise makes excuses about it all being too hard.
Certainly there is a tension to be maintained in knowing God, between the reverence due our Creator King, and the childlike intimacy the Father invites us to enjoy. Personally, I walk with God more fruitfully and even more reverently when I presume upon the invitation to intimacy. How can that be?
I think this is due to the fact that only in truly tasting of God — experiencing His invisible but very real presence — will your love, reverence and passion to obey Him naturally increase, in a way that you own it. You don’t have to be forced or talked into it; instead of a command you make yourself obey, true fear and worship of the Lord comes naturally.
To know the Lord is to love Him, naturally. Though it is right to honor God with worship out of choice and devotion, He most values the kind of worship that is a genuine and irrepressible response to what His child has seen and known.
Every day I encounter Christians who shrink back from knowing God for fear of being not good enough, or not surrendered enough; who believe they must achieve a certain level of spiritual maturity before God will walk and talk with them.
Yet I have found the opposite to be true: as I relax into hanging out with God as I would a friend, brother or father, I look more like His, naturally. I am taught, mentored, strengthened. I learn the wisdom of timing by observing how the Lord responds to people and situations. In the olden days before I knew the Lord and His Spirit, I figured it all out on my own — with predictable results. I thank God that He did not rescue me from those results, because they actually drove me to Him.
Relationship Was Always God’s Plan For Building A Kingdom
It is the relationship with God that brings us to maturity, not the other way around. I’m on a mission to convince people of this, to come against the lie the devil has fostered: that believers have to EARN God’s favor, His voice and His presence before they can know Him in any real way this side of heaven. Certainly, there are steps we must take to prepare for this relationship, but God has made sure we can do them all, by His grace and His Spirit.
As I say often, whatever experience you have with God is by your choice, and God’s power. He won’t choose for you, because He gave you free will. But when you use your will to choose knowing Him, He steps up with all the power you need to do so. Because it was and is His idea.
My weekly encounters with Christians reinforce the importance of speaking and writing more about these things. I join the chorus of voices out there who are singing the same tune, because so many people are still captive, still timid, and still reaching for satisfaction from the world because they don’t realize how very much God can truly satisfy them.
I am not qualified to write of these things because I live it perfectly, but because I have tested what I teach in my own daily life for over thirty years. I have come to know this amazing God who keeps leaping over all my flaws and weaknesses to love me with all His heart, and I want others to know Him as they can, for their joy and for His glory.
Today I have unwavering faith that God the Spirit is present with me. Long ago the question of “Where are you, God?” was replaced with “How should I live in His Presence?”
I’d love to know what question you are asking today about sharing life with God; please post them to me in the comments section at the bottom of this post.