Let me explain…
God wants us to know him, not just know about him (Jeremiah 24:7).
For a long time, I was convinced it was impossible to really know the God of the universe. After all, he’s more powerful, more just, more righteous, more intriguing, more holy, more forgiving, more tenacious, more majestic, and more surprising than we can begin to comprehend. Our language doesn’t have the words to capture his greatness; he is totally and emphatically beyond us and our imaginations. Yet, I wanted to know him.
Our Creator God desires for his people to get to know him without reserve. The God who exists in a spiritual world beyond our five senses has invaded our physical world with an invitation for relationship in hand. Since the beginning, he has found ways to encounter his people. Marvel of marvels, he planned it from the beginning–and made it so! God, the master of the impossible, wants us to know him face to face, and he provides the way. Our limited words, puny understandings, and cramped imaginations won’t stop him.
God’s lavish plans for us have unfolded over generations on this earth, while we are limited to our meager seventy-year perspective. The boundless, timeless, peerless God of creation–the God who puts color in the world and sound in the air–has already planned a one-on-one, personal relationship with us. He wants us to know him as an involved, committed, protective, and ever-present Father God. He loves his children not because of who we are, but because of who he is. Even when we are the most unlovable, he loves us. We can’t stop him from loving us; we can’t move far enough, dawdle long enough, or protest loud enough to stop him.
He planned for the times his children would try to live without him and for the times they would return to him.
Invading my private world
I was comfortable studying about God, without thinking at all about actually knowing him. I had studied theology; I knew all the “-ation” words like justification, sanctification, and reconciliation. I stood for the Truth, served on church committees, attended all the potlucks, and studied the Bible regularly. I had all my church “ducks” in a row, so to speak. I knew a lot about God, but I’d not yet met him. I knew the book, but couldn’t recall ever meeting the author.
When my life slowed down long enough for me to think, I found a disturbing lack of peace, a spiritual restlessness that alarmed me. Assuming I was suffering from one of those yet-to-be-identified, environment-related syndromes, I stubbornly ignored the uneasiness, thinking it would go away. It was a “man thing”–don’t think about it or talk about it, and it will go away. There were plenty of things to distract me, and as long as I stayed busy, I was fine. I packed my schedule full of amusements and did whatever it took to avoid periods of silence.
Then in the unbearable quiet of a sleepless night, God reached inside and touched my soul. His invisible presence invaded my world. I couldn’t explain it, nor did I understand it. Somehow my distinct, detached, and distant God overwhelmed my senses. The invitation was undeniable. I encountered the presence of the God of creation, and he knew my name. In spite of my busyness, my stubbornness, and my denial, God found a way to break through to my soul, whether I liked it or not.
He opens eyes
For as long as this planet has been populated, God has found ways to encounter his people. The Bible is the epic record of his incredible encounters with his people. This holy book was never meant to be merely a textbook or a proof text. It’s more like a diary, filled with stories and insights about God and his people. Within the Bible’s pages, God reveals himself in the lives of ordinary people. But it’s not a private diary that is locked up and hidden away in a secret place. It’s available and familiar. He wants us to open it, to read it, and to get to know him.
What a tragedy it would be to spend a lifetime bumping into God, brushing up against him, but never making face-to-face contact, never getting to know the person behind the name. Possessing a head full of facts about God doesn’t mean we know him or that we’re close to him. We can quote him in any version from the King James to The Living Bible without knowing the God who gave the words. We can study his Word like a rule book and become careful rule keepers without even expecting to know the rule giver. We can even retell the glorious biblical story and stand at a distance, unaffected and uninvolved. We can even rely on his promises and worship him weekly and still not know him.
But God’s encounters always invade the soul. They lift our spirits, open our eyes, transform our hearts, and claim our allegiance. God seems to enjoy shattering our limited understanding of him. Just when we think we have him figured out, just when he begins to fit within the borders of our imagination, he expands the borders. Nothing we can dream up will ever confine him. Getting to know the giver of life is an eternal project. There will always be more to know–more truths to hear, more experiences to share, more wisdom to learn, and more mysteries to probe.
God took the first step in this relationship before the clocks were wound, before order conquered chaos, before Eden had sod–and he hasn’t stopped. Our God still…
and, most of all, invites.
He invites us into relationship with him. He already knows us. Join me as we connect with the imagination of God and prepare for a divine encounter. God already knows your name, your secrets, your frustrations, your strengths, your hopes, your dreams.
Now he wants you to come to know him.