For the last few days I have been thinking about how I could express to people why I write what I do and what my hope is in all of it. Prayer was the catalyst. One day I asked the Lord if ever He were to give me some kind of platform to speak for Him, what would He want me to say? He answered, “Tell them to be with Me.” This hit a cord with me immediately, for this has always been a great conviction and passion of my own. And I tell you this next part because I believe it will strike a cord with you. Most people who claim to know and love Jesus have trouble spending time with Him daily. In Christian circles we talk so much about our “daily devotions” or “quiet times” and many have guilt because they are weak or non-existent. As I have written before, I call these moments in my day “Jesus-times”, where it’s just Jesus and me. For the most part, by God’s grace, I have been able to sustain some kind of Jesus-time for myself every day since high school. I haven’t known these moments to be incredibly impacting all the time, but I knew they were important enough to keep even if I wasn’t feeling in the mood. But, as I shared in a more recent post, I cannot function well without spending some time with God in my day. I doubt anyone can function successfully without a moment to pause and focus on our reality in Him or a moment to remember this beautiful relationship He offers us.
Hearing God say, “Tell them to be with Me” brought me to the basics of Christianity, the basics of the cross. The Sunday School answer to why Jesus died on the cross has always been, “To save us from our sins.” Yes, Jesus did have to die in our place because of our sins, but why? The point of Jesus dying wasn’t just to cover our sins. God wanted our sins to be covered for a reason. Jesus died on the cross for us because He wanted to reconcile us to Himself. He didn’t want our sin keeping us from relationship with the Holy of Holies. The whole point of the Bible, the cross, saving faith in Jesus is an eternal life with God. God loves us so much He did everything He had to, gave everything He had to in order to bring us back to a right relationship with Him. Now, my question for you then is, “Do you know God?” Let me share with you an observation.
Our claim that we know God is often equivalent to our claim that we know celebrities. Take Brett Favre, Miley Cyrus, Oprah, or Michael Jackson for instance. All of us can read articles upon article, book after book, and interview after interview about these people. We can read about them, talk about them, hear about them and know their whole lives from birth to now. However, few of us on earth actually know them. God is no different. I can read about Jesus in the Bible and in history books. I can talk about Jesus with various pastors, peers, or my husband. I can hear about Him every week in church and I can study God in the Bible to my heart’s content. None of this means I know Him. The only way we know anyone is if we spend time with him or her. To “know” is a relational word. If we ever actually want to know God, we need to be with Him.
My freshman year of college I remember being alone on my dorm floor for about 45 minutes in the morning. (Not sure what class I forgot to register for!) I realized after years of claiming to know and love Jesus, I didn’t really know how to be with Him. I didn’t really know Him. I took 45 minutes everyday to simply talk to God and listen to Him, if I was wise enough to recognize His voice. The habit of conversing with God developed quickly. I would be in this tiny room at the end of the hall telling God about my classes, asking Him questions about relationships I had, or laughing about something that was said on campus that day. After a few weeks, I heard Him respond. We were having our own conversation everyday for 5 months. I got to know God that semester. I finally learned the discipline of spending time with Him didn’t mean just reading about Him as if the Bible was a spiritual People magazine. Talking about Him to others didn’t prove I had a relationship. Being with Him, being with anyone, is the only way to cultivate a relationship.
God wants to be with you. God knows you so well, so intimately, every part of you. While this is great and can make you feel all warm and loved, ask yourself if you really know God. Do you just read about Him? Do you hear about Him? Do you talk about Him? Or do you actually spend time with Him? Mother Teresa wrote in a personal letter about this very thing. Joseph Langford shares this letter in his book Secret Fire:
“Jesus wants me to tell you again, how much is the love He has for each one of you – beyond all that you can imagine. I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus- one to one- you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel – but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books, but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you?…Not only He loves you, even more – He longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy. Even if you are not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes – He is the one who always accepts you.” –p. 54-55
Though I may not be as eloquent as Mother, this is my heart as well. I have been so rewarded by my time with the Lord on a daily basis; I can’t help but have a passion for others to develop the same kind of regular time with God. I can’t imagine my life without it and I believe you won’t be able to stop once you start. God isn’t one you get to know and decide He’s not worth the time. My Jesus-times are what get me out of bed. I want to talk to my Creator. I want to hear His thoughts about my day, my character, and my life. I want to know Him, for He is worthy to be known. Please do the same. For your own well-being, take time everyday to be with Him.