"God created us for a relationship with him and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God."
I was five years old when I first accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. My parents sent me to Vacation Bible School that particular week and the teachers talked about inviting Jesus into my heart. That night I talked to my mom about it and she explained to five year old me what Jesus was all about. I asked her to pray with me. That was the first time I gave my life to God. I can’t necessarily say that I experienced God or felt like God was revealed to me in some blinding light, but I knew something in my life had changed, a focus, a purpose had arisen in me even at that tender young age. Throughout my childhood it’s very evident that I was seeking a deeper understanding of God. I wanted more of Him. I was the one that dragged my mother to church. I was reading the Bible and memorizing scripture and asking questions. I sincerely wanted to understand who God was. I’ve always believed, even before I accepted Jesus into my heart, that there was a God and I knew that He loved me. Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich explain it like this, “Some people at this stage clearly and completely experience God first through their senses…we simply experience the presence of God.” God revealed himself to me through my faith and by creating a connection. His presence was felt even without the aid of a talking donkey.
There are some amazing stories of those fantastical moments where Jesus appears and shakes everything with His presence (Daniel 3, Matthew 14, Acts 9). Each of these reveals something new about our Savior. But, I think one of the most important things to take from this is how personal and specific each of these incidents are. Jesus reveals Himself to each of us in a personal way. To me, it was simply letting me connect with Him and sense His presence in my life. For Paul it was blinding light. How did Jesus first show Himself to you? How does He continue to do that in your life? How have you encountered Christ in the past 24 hours? What is your story of God’s presence in your life? I truly want to know. How did you meet your Savior? How did you, when did you, and where did you accept Him into your heart? Maybe God has revealed Himself many times, and maybe you’re still on a journey seeking that moment. Open your heart and mind to Him now. Let Him show His heart for you. Whether it’s a big shake up or quiet and steady touch or some where in between, God has something incredible and intimate just for you!
The Bible is full of stories of encountering God, people experiencing and reacting to the ultimate realization.
Sometimes they worship:
Along the way, Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them and said, “Rejoice!” They were so overwhelmed by seeing him that they bowed down and grasped his feet in adoring worship.
Matthew 28:9 (TPT)
At other times they simply obey:
Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Mark 1:17-18 (NLT)
There are those who weep:
Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
Luke 7:38 (NLT)
And those who ignore:
Excitedly, Mary told them, “He’s alive and I’ve seen him!” But even after hearing this, they didn’t believe her.
Mark 16:11 (TPT)
The process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others
Tonight I’m going to step away from Colossians 3, we’ll get back to that later.
The quote above is Robert Mulholland’s definition of spiritual formation. When I first read that quote I did not understand the last five words. What did my spiritual health have to do with other people? It took me a long time to figure that out. Tonight I was reminded of the importance of that part of the definition. Someone I care a great deal about came to me in a really bad state. I’ve never been great at dealing with a crisis. As a matter fact, I tend to run as far away from them as I can possibly go or go into panic overdrive mode. God has shown me in the last few years that He actually designed me in a way that I can handle and be there in the tough situations. Surprise, surprise. Tonight this person needed me, they needed calm and steady. If you know me, the Melody you’re used too or the one you probably remember is really dramatic, emotional and fragile. Hallelujah, I’m not that person anymore. That is thanks to an amazing God in my life and He has been revealing the true me a little bit by little bit every day, I was able to be here for this other person and bring a little light when they needed it.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about how God needs to be our focus, and I am not backing down from that truth, but there is more. He designed us for community. He designed us to love Him and each other. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31). There’s a purpose in our spiritual growth, it is for us to grow stronger and learn who we truly are, it is for us to grow in greater relationship with the Lord who loves us and it is also so that we may be strong for others.
Maybe there somebody in your life right now who needs you, someone who needs you to hold their hand or to listen or to speak. Tonight I did a bunch of all of that. Who is it that God has brought into your life for their needs? Reach out to them. If they live with you, go talk to them. If they don’t, call them. Maybe you need to write a letter or an email or paint a picture. Where is your heart leading you? What is God telling you about this person, about that relationship? How can you be there for them tonight, tomorrow and in the future? How can you continue to grow as yourself and also do it for others?