Early on in my Christian walk i struggled in many ways to become a better Christian. i bought devotionals and tried to read the Bible through (still haven’t read it completely, by the way), i was desperate to grow closer with God. Only problem was i had no idea what that looked like. The idea of a personal relationship with God, of seeing actual growth or the lack of it in my life seemed outlandish. i thought that was only for the select few, the ones that were “obsessed” with God and the Bible. So i tried to find my own version of that. i think deep down my intentions were good – i wanted that relationship – but i was missing a key point: i wasn’t making it personal.
i thought the right formula of repentance, praying, study books, and church would get me where i needed to go. And when i didn’t get results, i concluded i had missed a step or just not applied myself enough. It was because of this seeking that i started attending a Bible study in January 2018. i hoped that spending an evening a week with fellow believers and intentionally studying God’s Word would give me knowledge and tools i was missing. i still remember a conversation that clearly revealed one of my misconceptions. i said something along these lines: if i wasn’t consistent with my Bible readings, God wasn’t close to me. Anyone else ever feel or still feel this way? That if you don’t do certain things (read, pray, go to church, etc.) God will not be close to you, that He’ll pull away and you’ll have to run after Him again?
i don’t remember the exact moment when the scales fell from my eyes and i saw things clearly; it was a gradual realization and happened over several months. But i got a reaction when i said that; my teacher challenged that statement and i took that home with me. It resonated within my heart and began to challenge what i believed about my walk with God. Studying the Bible changed for me. It was no longer a search for that mystical moment where i would just discover the answer and suddenly i’d be filled with love for God and knowledge about Him. It became, along with prayer, a source of communication and communion with God. It was no longer about getting Him to love me, it was about getting me to love Him.
1 John 4:10 says, “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” There’s a lot to unpack in this and the surrounding verses, but for the topic of this post we’re going to be focusing on the first half. “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loves us…” Our relationship with God isn’t about getting Him to love us or accept us or welcome us; He already does, so much more than we can ever fully comprehend. Rather, it’s about how much we can love Him. How much of ourselves are we willing to give to Him, how much are we willing to surrender? Our job isn’t trying to earn His love and grace; we already have that in abundance. Our job is to seek Him with our whole heart, to desire – earnestly – to know Him personally and intimately.
And the best way to do that is to spend one-on-one time with Him. Just you and God. Take time with God outside of your church, family, friends, or spouse. Because if we want a relationship with Him instead of just knowledge of Him, we need that time. And because of the Holy Spirit living within us, we have access to deeper knowledge and understanding of God, without someone else to walk us through it. Don’t misunderstand, teachers and mentors are very important to our walk, but they should not be our source. Go straight to the Word, by yourself!
Let’s look at another verse. “As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in Him.” 1 John 2:27. God will reveal Himself to us, and He is a very capable teacher. When we open ourselves up to Him and truly dive into the Word, His Spirit will reveal the truth to us. 1 Timothy 2:3 assures us of this, God desires for everyone to be saved and to know His truth. Not just those who have achieved a certain level of devotion, but everyone.
That means you now, not the you that reads their Bible twice a day every day, not the you that always has a burning desire to pray and talk to God. We’re human, even the most devout among us struggles in their relationship with God. Don’t wait until you achieve the rank of “Devout Christian.” Because you won’t achieve that without making it personal first, without the halting steps and stumbles of a newborn baby. That’s okay, everyone was there at one point in their walk. We get past this stage by continuously returning in all our brokenness and failures, by showing up to that time with God, no matter how many times we feel like we’re starting at Square 1. Because each time you do show up, you’re taking another step. And in time, you’ll be looking back and marveling at the things God has taught you.