By Linda Nelson
More than 70 percent of Americans and at least 2 billion people worldwide believe that there is a God who sent His Son into the earth to live among us, die because of us, then rise again in order to bring us back to Him (Isaiah 53:5-6).
So if we believe that Jesus fixed the fractured relationship between God and us and restored our access to Him, why do so many of us continue to have such a difficult time connecting with God and making Him a relevant part of our lives?
The truth is that God cannot be comprehended. The very depth, breath, and width of who God is simply cannot be measured or understood by our humanity (Isaiah 40:18-26). It’s also true that God has no equal and no viable opponent. He is other. But God is not sitting high up in the clouds frowning in disappointment at our mistakes and vowing to destroy us.
The truth is that God is not far away, He is interested in you, and His thoughts toward you have never changed (Psalm 8:4). God has already chosen you. Now He’s waiting for you to choose Him.
A few years ago I decided to start walking a trail at a local park. After weighing multiple workout options, I knew that I needed to incorporate some sort of exercise routine into my schedule. Walking was easy-I thought. All that was required was a good pair of walking shoes, some comfortable clothes, and my own determination.
The map at the trail entrance gave me the option of testing my endurance by walking the full five miles or realizing that I was a bit out of shape and needed to start with the one mile course. The trail welcomed me onto its well-paved surface which led into a forest full of towering trees, vibrant flowers, and singing birds. I was met by breathless walkers and runners who seemed to love life and their dogs. Green flies littered the trail floor. Baby chipmunks played tag with one another while birds chattered excitedly to anyone who was listening. A soothing breeze tickled my face, and even the sun welcomed me as it shone brilliantly through the trees. After my walk I felt alive and exhilarated.
This was it. I had found my thing. I was on my way. I boasted about my experience to my husband, my sister, and to anyone else who would listen, and I couldn’t wait until my next walk. That passion continued for about two weeks and then sadly my honeymoon with the trail began to wane and my battle with myself started.
I began having this running dialogue with myself before each walk. “I’m not losing any weight,” I thought-even though I had more energy and was sleeping better. “My ankles and legs are sore
and my back hurts,” I argued. Logic reminded me that this was only a temporary discomfort and pushing through would result in good things for my body, but my built in saboteur respectfully disagreed.
I began missing days.
Those days quickly turned into weeks because something always ached or I felt a sniffle, or it rained. So I sat out on the rainy days, and vowed to go back as soon as the weather cleared. But then the cold weather came and everyone knows that you shouldn’t walk in the cold. It’s not good for your lungs, right? Anyway, I finally made the executive decision to sit out the winter and resume walking when it made more sense. But what I discovered was that the longer I was out the harder it was to start again. Finally, after months of waffling I realized I had to make a decision. I knew that although my halfhearted effort was better than nothing it really wasn’t beneficial. And although I could technically tell everyone (including my doctor) that I walked, my lack of commitment and consistency produced no evidence of it. So I dug deep, put on my big girl pants and told myself that I would do this, ache or no ache, rain or shine cold or snow – well maybe not some of those 10 degree below zero wind chills, and definitely not in a blizzard, but you get the point.
Our journey to God and with Him is often quite similar. What God requires of us is simple: Love Him without any contingencies, don’t put anything in your life ahead of Him, and love people with the same love that you yourself crave.
In the journey God reveals Himself to us through relationship, and His word. He simply says “Follow Me” and those of us who have had that initial encounter with Him know how sweet and pure His presence is and how completely He soothes every hurt place and fills every empty space in us with His love.
The challenge comes when we step out of that atmosphere and back into the counter-current of our lives. It is then that the “following” becomes complicated and it is then that the choice has to be made.
Civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. must have faced the choice numerous times. Dr. King, whose life was immersed in a human condition that was void of anything God intended for mankind, could have easily allowed himself to be crushed by despair, or thrown up his hands in anger and walked away at what appeared to be the absence of a loving God.
Instead, it was his connection to God that gave him the resolve and the determination to intervene on someone else’s behalf. In his book “The Measure of a Man,” King describes the unconscious oppositions that often place God on our long list.
“Not that we go up and say ‘Goodbye God, we are going to leave you now,’ King says. “It’s that we become so involved in the things of this world that we are unconsciously carried away by the rushing tide of materialism.” King goes on to say that “Something should remind us that the great things in this universe are things that we never see…God is still here… So I say to you seek God and discover Him, [because] without Him life is a meaningless drama with the decisive scenes missing” (The Measure of a Man, King, Jr, 1988).
So if we know that following God and orchestrating our lives around Him can only make us better, and that when we become better the world around us does too, then we also know that we must make the conscious effort to push past those pressures that scream for us to do it another way. In doing so what we find is that what God offers doesn’t come close to anything else we have ever believed is valuable.
God wants so much to be a part of your life that He has made the complexities of who He is, simple just so you can reach Him. But you are the one who has to push past the noises in your life in order to get to the place where God has been waiting for you all along. Only there will you find the peace of God, the fulfillment of God, and the blessings of God.
Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8
So choose to know Him better by spending quiet time with Him and time in His word regularly. Acknowledge Him throughout your day, remembering that even the small things matter. Thank Him at the end of the day for all of the seen and unseen things He’s done. Make church your routine. It’s full of people just like us, and its purpose is to represent His power through our numbers. Imagine what all of us could do if we stopped waffling and believing that it is enough to tell people that we are Christians. Imagine if people who don’t know Christ could look at you and see the benefit of a true relationship with Him. For me, I needed to decide that exercise was a beneficial part of my life. I couldn’t keep putting it off or pushing it to the side if I wanted to reap those benefits. And each time I do, I feel a little stronger and I become a little more resolved. Every time that you choose God your connection becomes a little stronger, your goal becomes a little clearer and your life becomes a little better.
There is no doubt that God is fighting to get to you.