Chased by Grace – How God’s Word Changed a Life

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I love hearing stories (testimonies) about people finding Jesus, so I am going to be sharing a few of my favorites with you! You can find them under the “And Then I Met Jesus” category.

This first story is from my husband’s great-uncle Jim. The italicized words are my summary and the regular words are Uncle Jim’s. I hope you enjoy this account of the relentless pursuit of Jesus and the power of His living Word.

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Jim was raised in a loving, Christian home, exposed to the Bible, and taught the difference between right and wrong. He even married a wonderful, Christian girl who tried to keep him grounded and encouraged him to go to church, but he wasn’t interested.

“I suppose when it comes right down to it, I was completely without excuse. Like many, I ran away from the very thing needed for a fulfilled life; I ran away from God. I spent the first fifty-four years of my life without any desire for God. I was such a beach person and ocean enthusiast; I use to think I enjoyed that recreation because I had evolved from an ocean creature and was just returning to my origins. Perhaps I was an atheist or an agnostic, who knows, all I know is that my life had moved away from God and any plan he had for me. But, God has his ways.”

Through a course of events, Jim lost his job on the East Coast and was reassigned to an office in Southern California. Nothing went smoothly, and because their house wouldn’t sell, he ended up packing his car and driving across the country by himself. Jim was looking forward to the 4-5 day drive:  the freedom to choose his route, enjoy good restaurants, and listen to great music all by himself. God had other plans.

“Within the first hour, things changed. I realized there wasn’t going to be any music coming from my radio since it was on the fritz. Unless I had cassette music, which I didn’t, it would be 4-5 days of total silence. Shortly after beginning my journey west, I pulled off the freeway to get a cup of coffee. As I pulled into the parking spot, I noticed a lady just opening up her bookstore. I went in and started to look around. Long story short, I walked out ten minutes later having purchased a set of Bible cassette tapes Old and New Testament.

Just weeks before this, Jim had been in another bookstore in Canada and purchased a book on Bible prophecy. God was beginning to move in his heart. So, what made him decide to buy the Bible cassettes?

“Regarding the cassette tapes, I remember thinking it would be a good opportunity to take a close look at what the Bible was all about, since I really hadn’t paid much attention to it before. Besides, I didn’t have much else to do for the next 4-5 days and it would be a good chance for me to check it out and see if it was true. I got back on the freeway and was a few hours into Genesis when I remembered that I hadn’t gotten my cup of coffee. That was the reason I had pulled off the freeway in the first place! It seemed a bit odd, I thought. I pulled off again and got an extra large cup to keep me going.

After several days of continuous listening to the Bible, I was getting so engrossed that I would not even get out of the car to have lunch at a restaurant. Instead, I would search for a fast food drive thru so that I could keep the tapes playing. I even felt annoyed when I had to interrupt the cassette to order my food.”

Jim found himself feeling frustrated with the Jewish people. They were so stubborn and rebellious, but God just kept loving them. It seemed clear to Jim what God wanted from the Israelites, but they were always going off in their own direction. He was intrigued when God punished them, but then forgave them, and started dealing with them in love all over again.

“I had the sense that God really loved these Jewish people more than anyone else. In fact, I think I was jealous. I remember thinking that maybe I should call my mother when I got into my motel room that night to see if we had any Jewish blood in our family somewhere. Sort of silly now that I think of it, but it just pointed out how clear the Bible was about God’s love for these people. I grew up in a Christian family, so I knew enough about the Bible to know that God had a plan for all people, not just the Jews. About the time I entered California, my Bible cassettes were getting into the New Testament. That picture of God’s love for all people became clear, but I was not ready to believe it, not yet.”

At, the end of the fifth day, Jim made it to Long Beach, CA where he had an extended-stay hotel room waiting for him near his new job. Instead of going to his hotel though, Jim continued to drive around the local area because he didn’t want to stop listening to the New Testament. It finally dawned on him that he could purchase a portable cassette player and finish the Bible in his room. It was the weekend and Jim had a few days before his new job started so he was able to finish his audio Bible.

“I found a church close by that first Sunday and picked up a few Christian books to read that discussed various aspects of Christian theology. The next few weeks were a challenge for me. First, my new job was on the very fringe of my skill set. Second, I was getting frustrated with my time examining what the Bible was all about and who this God was. This was mostly due to my drinking habits.

Alcohol had become a part of Jim’s lifestyle as he spent years entertaining clients and enjoying first class flights and free drinks. After a long day at his new job, he would head back to the hotel and have a glass or two of wine as he read his new Christian books. Problem was, he would fall asleep and when he woke up the next morning everything he read was a blur. In frustration, Jim would pour the remaining wine down the sink. This became a pattern: buy a bottle of wine to enjoy with Christian books, fall asleep, wake up frustrated, and pour out the rest of the wine. Finally, he’d had enough! Jim realized that he needed Jesus.

“It was clear that God loves each one of his creations and had this wonderful plan for their lives. Every morning, I would resolve to take wine out of my life so I could understand more clearly what his plan was. One morning, after again not being able to remember clearly what I had read, I got down on my knees and cried and asked God to take away my urge for alcohol. I told him I could not do it on my own. I asked him to be a real part of my life and to take control. It was an emotional time for me. I was never an emotional type, but I understood my needs and my weaknesses.”

Jim saw his weakness and sin and understood his need. He believed in Jesus as his own Savior (John 3:16-18) and he found eternal life. The Spirit of Jesus Christ came into Jim and began to change him just as He has promised.

“Several weeks later, as I finished one of my books and was making notes in the margin, I realized it had been a few days since I’d had a glass of wine. It seemed strange that I did not notice it sooner. I can’t recall how many days of struggle I continued in before the grip had been broken. All I know is that I was spending more time reading Christian literature and waking up clear-minded in the morning remembering what I had read. God works in his own timing.

God has certainly changed my life and brought new meaning and purpose. It’s been twenty years now and I cannot thank him enough for his grace and forgiveness. My favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28. After I gave my life to Christ, I immediately felt I had wasted my earlier years. I had spent 54 years serving my shallow desires and worldly lifestyle. But Romans 8:28 suggested to me that all things, including my early years, work for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. That verse helped me put my life in perspective. And indeed, God’s word is powerful. I’ve often said that the Bible should have a warning stamped on the front cover: “Caution, read at your own risk. This book will change your life!”

Isn’t this an amazing story of God’s grace and persistence in pursuing us? I love it! I hope you have been encouraged too. The Word of God is so powerful and His love is unstoppable!

 

Trust and Panic Attacks

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I was an illogically worried child. If it was five minutes past 8pm, then I would keep myself awake being worried about not getting enough sleep. I could never sleep at other people’s houses, which then would make me worried about being exhausted the next day. I couldn’t have clocks that I could see in my bedroom because then I would worry if it got too late. I specifically remember lying in bed at night as a child, thinking about my three greatest fears: my house burning down, a tornado coming (unlikely since I lived in Michigan), and throwing up. This was a nightly occurrence for years. I had an incredibly powerful brain and I could totally convince myself that I was sick or about to be sick, especially if I woke up in the middle of the night. My poor parents!

I was in college when I started having pretty severe panic attacks. I’ve always been a strong (prideful) person, so it was hard to admit to others that I was struggling. At first I didn’t know what they were, the shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest tightness, numbness, unreal feelings… I thought I was dying. After some research, I realized they were panic attacks. And then with some surprise, I realized that I’d struggled with a milder form of something similar for years. I used to call it “spiritual warfare” back in the “Duggar Days“. I still get occasional panic attacks, in fact I had one this morning.

Ironically, last week I wrote a quick blog post about not being afraid, which in a manner of three days became the most popular post I’ve ever written! So, how does someone write a blog post about not being afraid, truly not feel afraid of ISIS or the end of the world, and yet still struggle with panic attacks? I supposed in the same way that any of us are redeemed children of God still living in our broken human bodies. We are sinners, saved by God’s amazing grace, still dealing with our sin!

The biggest thing that has helped me to overcome worry, is recognizing how big, how huge, how incredibly enormous God really is! He is in absolute control at all times. He adores me. But God does not owe me an explanation for anything that happens. It was in one of my darkest and most troubling times that God showed me these truths with definition and clarity. I’m going to share that story next. (This is probably part 1 of 3)

For now let’s go back to daily anxiety and panic attacks. Why do they happen? What’s behind it? Everyone is different. My anxiety comes when I’m stressed, when I allow negative thought patterns, or when I am afraid of losing control. It always helps to take a quiet moment and figure out what is bothering me. Then I recognize my panic attack for what it is, speak truth to myself, and seek Jesus. Taking a minute to just breathe and focus on who Jesus is and how much He loves me usually calms me down. I’m honest with Him. I tell Him what is freaking me out and I let Him calm me and speak truth to me. It’s not like God doesn’t already know! We can’t hide anything from Him. We won’t disappoint Him.

  • “And he (Jesus) awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still (after living with him and seeing what he could do) no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:39-41

I’m pretty sure that if Jesus can calm a wild, raging storm on a lake, He can also calm the storm of worry inside of me! I know He can, because I’ve seen Him do it before.

I Will Not Fear

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Apparently ISIS has trained soldiers in my state ready to follow orders, ready to commit more acts of terror like what happened in Paris. This should make me nervous, right? Social Media is full of scared people worried about terrorists. Our country is full of scared people, such as the people who are now refusing to allow refuges into their states.

I’m not afraid. In fact, I say bring it! Why? Because I’m amazing? No! Absolutely not! It’s because I believe that my God is big enough to handle it all!

But, I might die! So what? Death means life with Jesus!

But if I’m dead, who will take care of my family? Their Heavenly Father!

Loved ones might die! Yes, but nothing is certain…they also might get in a car accident tomorrow. God is still in control!

What if it’s the End Times? Awesome! That means Jesus is coming back! Let’s celebrate!!

But what if I lose my stuff and have to go through hard times and don’t get to do what I want? That’s just called real life. God does not change.

Listen, I was raised in a fear-filled environment. We were always afraid, mostly that if we didn’t do the right things God was going to punish us. This message was presented so that those in charge had more control. The real God isn’t like this! He’s not out to get us!

God has been with me and my husband through death and grief as we miscarried our first two children at 17 and 18 weeks. God held us up when my husband’s father was suddenly killed four years ago. God has walked us through moves, job changes, lack of jobs, uncertainty, stress, and tragedy. I have felt Him and seen Him and that is why I am not afraid. Jesus does not change and He has promised to take care of us. There is no reason to fear!

Fear is a powerful weapon of your enemy, the Devil. He uses it to keep you quiet, defeated, and useless.

  • “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
  • “I (Jesus) have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But, take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

How big is your God? Maybe you have accidentally made him into your own image…too small and powerless. Come on! This is the star-breathing God of the Universe we are talking about! The God who did all the miracles in the Bible! The God who killed His own Son so that you could be His child! He’s got this! Run to Him, let Him give you peace, and stop being afraid!

 

The Day God Became 3-D

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I was one of those good kids that Sunday School teachers love and the other kids hate. I knew all the answers, was well behaved, and proud of it. People pleasing has always been important to me. Once I knew what the expectations were, I would follow them to the best of my ability. Becoming a Pharisee was natural for me.

My brother and sister and I were homeschooled before it was even a word. We started back when homeschoolers were afraid of the big yellow bus pulling into your driveway. If my mom took us grocery shopping during school hours, the cashier would automatically ask why we weren’t in school. It was fun to tell them that we were homeschooled because their mouths would literally drop open; then they usually asked my mom something like, “Is that legal?”

I knew the Bible stories growing up, I knew all about God, Creation, Jesus dying on the cross, etc. But it was two-dimensional knowledge to me. God was a name on the page of a book. This all changed one day when I was fifteen years old.

Both of my parents had real relationships with Jesus. This was something that they modeled to us. And because of them, I chose to trust Jesus as my Savior when I was seven. That was before the “crazy days” started. By the time I was fifteen, we were involved in our cultish group and church. I was performing with the best of them…having daily devotions, living a life of rules and standards, and always ready to answer the question, “What is God doing in your life?” But I didn’t really know Him. Not yet.

The day God became 3-D started with a normal (to my family) school assignment. My mom gave me a list of God’s names and told me to pray them to Him. So I went up to my bedroom, and began to pray something like this. “God, you are Jehovah Jireh, you always provide for us. You are El Roi; you see everything. You are the Rock, my strength. Etc.” Suddenly, I knew that I was not alone in my bedroom. A very real God had come to hear me praise Him, and He liked it. I don’t even remember if I finished the list or not. I know I jumped up and ran downstairs to my mom screaming, “Mom, Mom, God showed up!” She just smiled this secret little smile and said, “I’ve been praying He would.”

This day changed the course of my life. God was more than just a 2-D name on a page, He was a 3-D Person and I wanted to get to know Him. My morning devotions changed; my prayers changed. I started looking for Him. I started praying to Him instead of just at Him. I started taking long walks to talk with Him. I began to realize just how much He loved me. The Bible became personal as God spoke through it to me. It was amazing!

Ultimately, this new understanding of Jesus would lead me to question the god, the standards, and the rules our church and group was telling me to follow. Eventually I would ask the question, “Will the real Jesus please stand up?” and He would lead me out. But that’s another story.

Would We Miss Him?

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If Jesus came and visited my church would I recognize him? Would you? Most of the religious people missed him last time.

The Pharisees were some of the religious elite. They looked good on the outside. They not only followed the rules in the Law, they made up more rules and followed them too. They read and taught the Scriptures. But when God showed up, the promised Savior of the world, these same religious people missed him. In fact they didn’t just miss him, they claimed that he was a drunkard and that he was possessed by a demon! God, the Creator of the Universe!

Ironically, these “good” Pharisees were the only people Jesus condemned. He spent a lot of time telling parables about them, ignoring their rules, and challenging their ideology. Why? Jesus met “sinners” in the dirt, loved them, forgave them, and set them free. Why was he so confrontational with the Pharisees? Would he be confrontational with me? I think this is the answer.

The sinners knew they were sinners. The Pharisees thought they were good enough. Grace is only good news if you know you need it.

When I am in the dirt (like the woman caught in adultery in John 8), totally aware of my sin and my mess and my unworthiness, Jesus can sit down there with me and show me grace. He loves me and forgives me even though I don’t deserve it. Jesus overwhelms me with grace because that’s who He is, and I stand in awe and can’t help but love Him in return.

But, if I think that I am good enough because of the list of rules that I am following, if I think that my outward performance is impressing God, if I am standing in pride, then Jesus can’t show me grace. Grace means nothing if we think that there is something we have done to earn it.

I really believe that Jesus’ motivation behind every confrontation with the Pharisees was to show them their sin, to show them that they weren’t good enough, that they would never be good enough.

These religious people thought that God gave the Law so that people would follow it and be good enough to impress Him. They thought it was a checklist to perfection. But Paul tells us in Galatians 3 that God gave the Law to show us our sin, to show us that we couldn’t do it, and to remind us that we needed a Savior.

God’s standard is perfection. In order to be with Him, we have to be perfect. (Psalm 5:4) Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I’m out of luck! Still, He wants us! God wants a relationship with us! That has always been His goal. The consequence of sin, disobedience to God, is death. (Romans 6:23) But God loved us so much that He came to die in our place (John 3:16). If we believe this, that Jesus died in our place for our sins, then God forgives us, adopts us as His children, and gives us eternal life! (John 3:16-18 Jesus is talking to a Pharisee!) That is good news! There is nothing that we can do to earn forgiveness. And there is nothing we can do to earn God’s blessings or impress Him once we are saved.

I’ve met a lot of Christians who look more like Pharisees than Jesus followers. And I can say this because I was one once.

If Jesus showed up at your church with shaggy hair, maybe an earring or two, wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops, with Christian rap music blaring out of his rolled down car windows, would you recognize Him? Does this description make you angry? Uncomfortable? Does it make you laugh? Let me know what you think!

I’ll be sharing some personal stories in the next few days about how I stopped being a Pharisee and embraced being a sinner.

Freedom vs. Rules Part 2

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I’ve often wondered how people initially get caught up in legalism. I guess I’d assumed that people just liked rules, or that they were sucked in because of pride and a desire to be “looked up to”, or that, like me, they were inadvertently taken there by their parents. The other day I had a really interesting conversation with my mom about why they got involved in this lifestyle, and what I heard surprised me.

Some people get involved with legalism by accident because they just want to follow God. Huh? This was not the answer I was expecting!

But as I thought about some other people I know who have gotten heavily involved in a legalistic group, I realized that it’s true for them too. So, how do you get from a good place like “I want to follow God” to a legalistic place where “I have to obey all of these rules” and then “You’re not godly because you do, or don’t do, x, y, z”? I think it starts with forgetting Who it’s all about.

When my parents first became Christians, they were in college. They got involved with a college ministry full of other Christians who were serious about their relationship with Jesus. The attitude was, “If the Bible says it, let’s do it!” After my parents left college, they had a hard time finding a church with a similar attitude and they missed having a community of believers who were actively following Christ. When they found our “crazy” church (as I call it), they were drawn in by the fact that these people were doing “what the Bible said” and were pursuing a “godly” lifestyle. My mom says that, at the time, she didn’t notice the legalism because she was so excited to have found people who were living for God. Living for God or living to impress God?

So what makes something legalistic? Did you know that two people can do the exact same thing but one is a legalist and the other is a genuine follower of Christ? It really has everything to do with heart motivation and nothing to do with outward actions. Legalism is often motivated by pride and/or fear.

You can do a lot of good things from legalistic motivations. For example: eating healthy, home schooling, reading your Bible, praying, going to church, memorizing Scripture, avoiding certain entertainment choices, dressing modestly, etc. These things can also be done without legalistic motivations. So, how do you know if something is legalism or not? Ask this question: Why am I doing this? Is it because I want to? Or is it because I think that I have to? Am I trying to make God happy? Am I trying to impress other people?  Our motivations show our true hearts.

When I lived as a legalist, I had my morning devotions so that God would be pleased with me. I wanted to “get in his favor” and make sure I had his blessing. Now, I do my morning devos because I want to hear from God and start my morning with Him. Newsflash: Good things can be sin if they are done with the wrong motivation! All those mornings where I was trying to impress God with my “goodness” were unimpressive to Him.

Why does this matter to me?

Because, legalism takes the focus off of Jesus and puts it on me. Legalism says that I have to perform in order to make God happy…I have to perform. Legalism ignores the fact that there is nothing I can do in myself to please God. Legalism ignores the perfect performance of Jesus Christ. It encourages pride, or hopelessness, depending on my performance. Legalism turns the freedom we have in Christ into bondage. And it steals the glory of God.

The Pharisees were some of the greatest legalists who ever lived. They not only followed the rules, they made up more rules. They supposedly knew the Bible. And yet, when the promised Savior showed up on earth, when God walked among them, they missed him.

This Christian life, as we call it, cannot be about us. It has to be about Him, Jesus, the Savior of the world!

More about the Pharisees next time!

Freedom vs. Rules Part 1

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“For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations?” Colossians 2:20

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by any of them.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

Sometimes I wonder if we even read the Bible back then. I recently did an in-depth study of the book of Colossians and the whole time I kept thinking, “How did I miss this for so many years? Did we just skip this book?” We seem to also have skipped Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Corinthians, etc. We skipped all the parts of the Bible that condemned legalism and instead spent a lot of time in the Old Testament and the gospels…looking for rules to follow. Here’s a definition of legalism for those of you who are lucky never to have experienced this way of life.

Legalism:

  1. strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.
  2. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works; the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

These definitions hit close to home for me as I think about the home school program I was raised in (ATI: The Advanced Training Institute), the cultish church we attended or were affiliated with for most of my teens/early twenties, and the way I lived my life for almost ten years. It wasn’t my choice to get involved at first; I was a child that was taken along by my parents. Later, since I wanted people to think well of me, I learned to follow the rules and perform correctly with the best of them.

“What’s wrong with following the rules?”

“Are you saying we should just live in sin?”

“God has called us to be holy and different from the world”

I can hear the questions.

People living in legalism spend a lot of time pointing fingers at other people in judgement, while feeling good about themselves. “You’re wrong because you do blah, blah, blah. And I’m right because I do this, this, and this.” The only person worthy to judge the sins of humanity didn’t. The only people Jesus ever yelled at were the Pharisees who thought they were so perfect. But he got down in the dirt with sinners and forgave them. Maybe it’s not about rules. Maybe it’s about Jesus.

I grew up in a cultish subculture of Christianity. It’s still out there. But more concerning to me is the legalism I see in mainstream churches. When we put the focus on ourselves through legalism, we steal God’s glory and we alienate people from the only One who can save them!

I’m going to be writing a couple more posts about legalism and false teachers, so stay tuned! 🙂

Superheros and the End of the World

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I’ve noticed a trend in film-making lately. And in order to back up my observation I did a little digging. In 1993 there were five superhero type movies that came out. Ten years later in 2003, the number of superhero movies had climbed to nine. But get this…in 2013, there were 27 movies made about people/things with super powers!! That is a 540% increase in twenty years!

Then I decided to look into apocalyptic type films because I feel like there are a lot of “end of the world” movies out there. According to my findings, between 1990-1999, there were 34 apocalyptic films made, between 2000-2009, there were 58 films, and between 2010-2014, there have already been 42 films apocalyptic films produced!

So, I’m not just imagining it! There really are a lot of movies about superheros and the end of the world being made right now. It’s like people are obsessed.

It’s like they know something.

So, here’s my question…what if we do know something? What if the Creator of the Universe put within his creations a desire for Himself? Why do we long for someone with super powers to come and save the day, to make everything right. I believe it’s because we were made for God.

The Ultimate Superhero came just over 2000 years ago and did what no one else could do. He smashed the power of sin and death and made a way for us to be friends with the God who created us. Before he left, this Superhero promised that he would be back, this time not as a quiet servant, but as a supreme King.

It’s like we know this…innately…even people who don’t believe in Jesus, or God, or the Bible. We long for a Savior with powers that we don’t possess to come and save us, stop evil, and make things right again.

Do we also know He’s coming soon? That the world as we know it is about to end? Look at the increase in movies about an apocalypse…

It makes me wonder.

 

http://flightstightsandmovienights.com/review-index/the-list/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apocalyptic_films

 

What if We’ve Got it Wrong

Christians are known for their amazing ability to tell people what “not to do”, and what “to do” in order to be a good Christian. I’m guilty of this myself. But what if we’ve got it wrong? What if it’s not about what we do or don’t do? What if Jesus saved us for a different purpose?

What if He saved us because He wants us to know Him?

Our sin, disobedience to God’s ways, is what separated us from God in the first place (Genesis 3). We hear this a lot and are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve. But get this, before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they walked with Him in their garden! They knew what His footsteps sounded like! (Genesis 3:8) God’s original plan was to be that close to us!

Fast forward a few thousand years to Jesus hanging on the cross. What happens the moment he dies? The giant curtain in the temple that separated people from the Presence of God is torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:37-39) God was welcoming us once again, letting us know we could walk with Him and recognize the sound of His footsteps.

Listen to how Paul, the former legalist, puts it after listing all of his impressive outward actions, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:7-8.

When I was fifteen years old, God showed up one day. I wasn’t necessarily looking for Him or expecting Him. I was just dutifully praying through a list of His names as a home-school project. But He showed up and I’ve never been the same. God jumped from a two dimensional name on the page of an old book, to a three dimensional Person. He has continued to show up over the past eighteen years, more often when I am looking for Him, but sometimes even when I’m not. I can honestly say that there is nothing I want more than to know Jesus, to follow Him, and to love Him because I know Him. It’s not because I am someone special, but because He is.

What if this is the point? What if the God of the Universe saved us not so that we could perform for Him, but so that we could know Him. What if loving God and following (obeying) God flows out of knowing Him? Not knowing more information about Him, but coming face to face with Him. What if this was the point of the cross?

Maybe you are saying, “That’s great for you, but it’s never happened to me.” I’m pretty sure that God wants everyone to know Him. In Acts 17, Paul goes to Athens and talks to some intellectuals. He tells them about the “Unknown God” they made an altar to, basically introducing them to the real God of the Bible. This is what he says in verses 24-27,

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

My NKJV Bible from years ago said, “In the hope that they might grope for him and find him”. I love this picture of reaching out in the dark and God is right there. The idea of searching for God and finding Him is all through out the Bible (Jeremiah 29:12-14).

I firmly believe that anyone who looks for God through Jesus Christ will find Him. And this is my new goal in life. Rather than telling people what they should or shouldn’t be doing, I want to help them know Jesus. Because I know once they meet Him, really experience Him, they will love Him and want to follow Him.