It’s been a long while since I wrote publicly to reflect and to praise God for who He is and what He is doing.
I’m not sure why, but it’s seemed easier to write to individual people, or rarely, to select, “known” audiences recently. Easier even than writing just for myself. As a friend and wonderful writer said recently, “Writing is not the same without a reader. I need a reader or my writing seems pointless.”
As I read that a few days ago, I was struck with the realization and regret that it has been some time since I have regarded writing in the way I once did: essential, yet a privilege. A gift. A ministry. A part of me that God designed with a specific purpose.
So here I am again. Showing up on the page. Slowly stretching these rusty fingers and coaxing them to resume their movement. To attempt that radiant wonder of transcribing a few of the thoughts and meditations of this heart.
How does one come to know the God of the universe?
That’s a thought I’ve pondered on more than one occasion. In fact, I think I’d say it qualifies as a thought I return to. Always. Always, there are these moments that cause me to return to this question, this marvel, this curiosity, this confusion, this awe.
I think I first truly asked this question when I was around age thirteen. When God got a hold of my heart for the first time, and I realized there was more to following Him than striving to perfectly keep the commandments I learned.
Looking back on those days now, I describe it as “rules to relationship.” I had heard about a relationship with God, but didn’t really know what that looked like or how to get one. I heard others say that the difference was in truly knowing God, not just knowing more “about” Him. And so I wondered:
How do I get to know God? Like, really.
“Read the Bible,” they said. “Pray every day. Talk with Him.”
So I began to do so more often. And while this helped, I still wasn’t sure what made the difference between collecting facts about God and the people in the Bible and actually knowing Him.
I pressed on. Over time, something wondrous and rather mysterious began to happen: something changed in me. I couldn’t put it into words, but it was something about how I saw. How I saw…everything.
How I saw the golden light streaming through the screen. Or the brilliant colors of the sunset painted across the sky, each day’s splendor unique. Or the stars flung across the expanse of the heavens, always there, whether we see them or not. The majestic wonder of space, indescribably grand, impossible to comprehend.
How I saw the intricate details of a flower. Pushing its way through the dark soil to triumph in the sunlight. Unfurling to greet the morning, again and again. Bringing color and delight where once was only an expectation.
How I saw the wonder of language. The beauty of all the ways that humans use language to try to begin to express what is inside their minds, hearts, and souls. The inherent futility of such attempts, yet our persistence at doing so anyway. The struggle of a student, putting all of their effort into learning the sounds and words and inner workings of a language they did not grow up using, for the purpose of connecting with a friend, or gaining a new job, or moving to begin a new life. The moments of sheer disbelief and overwhelming joy when people finally receive the greatest message of hope in their very own language–the one closest to their heart.
How I saw people–just beside me, and around the world. Broken, yet beloved. Lonely, yet never alone. Hurting and in desperate need of everlasting hope. Each with their own story…their own dreams and heartaches, joys and regrets. Breakthroughs and concerns. Longing for the assurance of truth.
Why did the way I see change?
Because I began to know God.
You see, knowing God is about knowing His heart. It is reading His word and listening for His voice, identifying the details of His nature. It is learning what He has done and what He continues to do. It is studying His promises and being astonished at the passion of His holiness and His love, combined. It is weeping over the broken covenants of His people, and weeping over how, through it all, He was still faithful. It is allowing the absolutely unheard of redemption story carried out by this incredible God seep deep, deep, ever deeper, into your heart until you see how it truly does change everything.
The more your heart changes, the more your perspective changes. The more your perspective changes, the more you desire to know Him. The more you desire to know Him, the more you grow. The more you grow, the more your heart and your life align with His. And you discover: that is what He desires most of all.
Maybe you, like me, find it difficult to wrap your mind around the concept of knowing an all-powerful, everlasting, infinite God.
Maybe you’ve been reading and reading, praying and praying, and haven’t really noticed a difference in you or around you.
Can I suggest a crazy thing? Try to listen. That was the element that was missing for so long, and the one that I still struggle with the most. I could fly through reading my Bible chapters daily, and I really like talking, so I could pray plenty. But none of that makes an impact unless I am willing to listen.
The problem most of us have with listening is we have to be…still. We have to be quiet. We have to be patient.
And quite frankly, those can be very uncomfortable for us.
God? I want to hear You. I want to listen. But if I stop talking and sit quietly to do that…I’m afraid of what I’ll find. I’m afraid of what I’ll feel. I’m afraid of what You will dredge up from the depths of my soul. I’m afraid that all of what I’ve been avoiding will come tumbling to the surface and I’ll end up in a puddle of tears and bewilderment and oh, that will be so messy, God. I don’t like messy. Besides…I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait? Because I know You don’t always–or even often–answer within a few minutes.
This is how He does His life-changing work in us: in our quiet obedience to seek Him. To listen for His voice, and to be attentive to the way He displays His glory and His handiwork all around us.
This is how we know Him: we see His fingerprints in all He has made, in the wonders He has worked in our lives and the lives of others, and in the mysteries yet to be understood.
God is working, friends. As we watch our lives slip through our tightly-clenched fingers of control, may we take the time to stop. To ask ourselves the hard questions. To not allow ourselves to avoid the messy stuff any longer. To sit with our maker and allow Him to gently, patiently reveal Himself in our hearts.
And as we get to know Him–for this will be a life-long journey!–may we always remain seeing everything in awe.