THE ABIDING LIFE
Getting to Know God
By Gwen Sellers
Perhaps you've always realized this, but I can be slow on the uptake. I'm beginning to understand that I'll always be getting to know people. Not that I'll always be meeting new people and making new friends, though that wouldn't be a bad thing. What I mean is that people change. Relationships are dynamic. My sister, whom I've known all my life, still surprises me. I don't fully know her because neither of us is fully complete. God is in the process of sanctifying and maturing both of us. I change. She changes. And we keep getting to know each other.
In some ways, this is a little scary. People aren't always dependable. Sometimes they change for the worse. But in many ways, this is awesome. People can change for the better. We can learn to live and love better. It's also fun to think that people we've known for years aren't going to get boring. Marriages that last for the long haul aren't boring. At least they don't have to be. My weekly phone calls with my sister don't have to be repetitions of the same conversation. I don't want other people to box me in to their preconceived notions of me or to the ways they have experienced me in the past. I don't want to do that to them either.
What is especially nice about long-term relationships is that we get to participate in and celebrate the growth. For instance, I have struggled with perfectionism for most of my life. People that have known me for years can clearly see and celebrate my increasing freedom in this area. They can remind me of God's faithfulness and highlight the changes. They are also willing to learn with me, adapting to changes and forgiving faults. The relationship is well-enough established that when I bumble about, they don't give up on me. They are invested so they stick with it.
A significant amount of trust gets built in long-term relationships, which is why they remain intact even when the parties are changing. And, even though people are constantly changing, there are a lot of things that stay the same. When you've known someone for years, you can share inside jokes. Often you develop shorthand communication. You've learned what they like and don't like. You know how to demonstrate love. When relationship is developed over the years, a solid foundation is built; the foundation makes fluxing with the change something exciting and intriguing rather than something to fear.
In some ways, our relationship with God is the same. A. W. Tozer, in his The Pursuit of God, writes:
To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart. St. Bernard stated this holy paradox in a musical quatrain that will be instantly understood by every worshipping soul:Tozer talks about the personality of God and the reality that, though God seeks us first for salvation, we are also to seek Him. Getting to know God whets our appetite to get to know Him more. He writes, "I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people." Christianity does not end with salvation. Rather, our engagement in our relationship with God begins there.
We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.
I am often quick to box other people in to my preconceived notions. Allowing them to change and grow is something new for me, though I find it to be very rewarding and enjoyable. How much more so should I be slow to box God in? God does not change or grow (Hebrews 6:17-18; James 1:17). But He is vast beyond my comprehension and beyond finding out (Romans 11:33-36; Isaiah 55:8-9). As one of my small group friends says, God is always going to be new and strange and other to us. Certainly in this lifetime we will never have our fill of God. God isn't boring. He isn't something I attain at salvation and then leave it at that. Another small group friend reminded us of C. S. Lewis's quote in The Weight of Glory:
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.Just as I should not stop getting to know people I've known all my life, I should not stop getting to know God. Pursuing God is a lifelong endeavor. He longs to be sought and He longs to be found. Though not written to Gentile believers in the 21st Century, Jeremiah 29:13 contains an important truth about the character of God. He told the Israelites, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jesus extended a similar invitation in Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." In Revelation 3:20, He tells the church in Laodicea, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." God seeks us. God invites us to seek Him. The relationship is real and it's dynamic. He is in the process of changing us, bringing us to completion (Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 13:9-12). As we mature, we experience Him differently. As we continue to pursue, we find ourselves with more intense longing and also truer satisfaction. When I accept the invitation to the sea, I discover the thrill of sandcastles.
Image Credit: Lotzman Katzman; Indiana Dunes; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Personal-Life
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Published on 8-6-2014