Relationships are funny things. They run the gamut from friendly banter exchanged between barista and coffee aficionado to intimate secrets shared between friends to understanding (and loving) your spouse’s sighs, head tilts, and vocal inflections. On a daily basis we engage in a number of relationships. Some require nothing more than a smile and a “Have a nice day”. Others are open arms at the end of long, trying day. Arms that hold on while you sob quietly into them. Arms that don’t care that dinner is burning in the oven or on the stove because the embrace is more than dinner.
And then there’s our relationship with God.
If you’d like to read a deeply powerful and piercing foray into a person’s relationship with God, I HIGHLY recommend you read Paul’s series “To see GSHJ less darkly” over at just me being curious. His words gave me so much to ponder. If you are a shallow swimmer, you might want to grab your scuba gear because his posts burrow into the deep end of the ocean. Just a forewarning: pack extra tanks, because you won’t want to come up for air for awhile.
My relationship with God is very different than Paul’s. As I’m sure yours is as well. That’s what is so beautiful about it. God meets each of us where we are and He works from there.
Relationships are a process. They take time to develop.
Just because I read all of CS Lewis’ books or sing along to every Mercy Me song does not mean I am in a relationship with them. Just because I research someone on Wikipedia or read every biography on Napoleon does not mean I know everything about them. Just because I sit in a pew on Sunday and listen to a sermon about Moses or David or Paul or Jesus, does not mean I know them. Because what I’ve come to realize is that knowing about is not the same as knowing. And relationship, REAL relationship, is in the knowing. Not the knowing about.
My relationship with God began when I accepted Christ as my Savior.
I walked into the room, a single chair in the center with a spotlight illuminating it from above. I hesitantly crawled to the chair, feet leaden, legs wobbly, heart crescendoing into a fortissimo. “Hello?” I called. “Anyone here?” No answer. “Am I too late? The notice said the meeting starts at 7:00 and my watch shows it’s ten till.” I wondered where they had the table of cookies and punch, because I eat when I’m nervous.
“Sit down, please,” a voice called out.
Normally, I would have jumped, but there was something comforting about the voice, something familiar.
“Hello? Do I know you?”
“Not yet. But you will.”
I sat in the chair and looked around the room, hoping to see at least one other person. “I’m not sure this is the right place. I’m looking for the S.A. meeting?”
The voice laughed, a pleasant laugh, like warm apple cider on a wintry day. “Yes, yes indeed. You are in the right place. This is Sinners Anonymous. And we are glad you are here.”
“I expected more people,” I said, tears welling in my eyes. Could I really be the only one who needed this?
“Don’t be afraid. Be strong and courageous, my child. You are making the best decision of your life.”
Just as quickly as the tears started, they stopped. I sat straighter in the chair, courage replacing the feelings of hesitation and awkwardness.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes,” I said. And I was. Instinctively, I said the following words, “My name is Heather, and I am a sinner.”
God bellowed from above, “Hi, Heather!”
“Hi,” I said. “Nice to meet you.”
“I’ve been waiting since the beginning of time for you to come, Heather. And I’m so glad you did,” He said.
I didn’t grab my purse, get up from my chair, flip my hair, and walk away from the room suddenly cured of my desire to sin. I wasn’t spontaneously armed with the necessary tools to be strong and never waver in a world saturated in sin. I didn’t automatically put God first, put His will ahead of mine, crave Him with every ounce of my being. Actually, I felt a little queasy because I understood that my life would forever be changed. I would no longer be the Heather of yesterday, keeping God “out there” somewhere at a seemingly safe distance. I didn’t want God out there anymore. I wanted Him in here, in me, alive and active and working in me and through me.
As with any addiction, I knew my first step was admitting I needed Him. I had no idea what plans God had in store for me, but I knew that the path would not always be easy.
Staying in my chair and facing God was difficult, but I knew that in order to understand myself and my sin and learn how to walk with God, I had to stay. I had to remain in Him. Because God had the answers then and He still has the answers today.
My journey with God began several years ago and every day is a beautiful, scary challenge. Perhaps I will share more with you about my journey from knowing about to knowing. But first, there’s something I need you to know. My name is Heather and I’ve been a sinner all my life.
There. I said it. Now that that’s out of the way, nothing I say should shock you. Well, it might. If so, then I hear there’s a meeting down the hall for righteous naysayers called “Pharisees Anonymous”.