And there is something profoundly humbling about knowing God. I’m not talking about the trinket God or the genie-in-a-lamp God, I mean the God who invented the tree in my front yard, the beauty of my sweetheart, the taste of a blueberry, the violence of a river at flood. I think there are a lot of religious trends that would have us controlling God, telling us that if we do this and that and another, God will jump through our hoops like a monkey. But this other God, this real God, is awesome and strong, all-encompassing and passionate, and for reasons I will never understand, he wants to father us.
-Donald Miller, Father Fiction
I have little doubt that God interacts with each of us differently, because I personally know some Christians who don’t hear from him very directly at all and some Christians who have even had a vision or two, and all of them seemed pretty satisfied with their relationship with God. I have my own kind of relationship with him, too, and I am immensely satisfied in it. You know, I really do think that God’s become my best friend. For almost my entire life, I never really believed that God was as relational as older Christians claimed. He always seemed abstract, beyond reach, beyond comprehension or trust. Even when I “learned” about him, I felt awkward. When I tried talking to him, it felt like a waste of time, as though I were talking to a brick wall or at least to a god who didn’t care. But my relationship with God is not limited to reading about him or talking about him or just trying to follow him. To me, a relationship like that wouldn’t really make sense because that’s like saying you have a relationship with Gandhi or with your history textbook. To me, it isn’t a relationship if all you have is studies and discussions and words whispered aloud to someone who may or may not respond. My God is alive, and as in any relationship, we go back and forth all the time.
The only reason I fell into this relationship in the first place is because God didn’t insist that I rely upon books and word of mouth to follow him–he initiated a personal relationship with me. Since then, he’s actively proven to me the value of Scripture, the glory of his nature in Christ, a ton of the truths that I’ve mentioned on this blog, and so on and so on. My God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and full of righteous love. I know this about him not just because of what I’ve read and heard, but because of what he’s done for me personally. And so I trust him completely.
Many, LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
When it comes to conversation, I pray as though I’m speaking to my father, husband, or best friend. I’m confident that he hears me because he hears all things. I’m confident that he’ll respond out of his perfect wisdom, righteousness, and love. And I’m totally at ease because I know that I’m talking to someone who adores and delights in my presence, and that he’s not going to get mad or judgmental about anything that I say to him. And he converses with me, too. I don’t get voices or visions or anything, but I get a lot more than I ever expected I would. He speaks very clearly to me through people, through sermons, through music, and through Scripture. He sends me signs from time to time, and I believe that he has a very few times sent me “godthoughts” and a couple of dreams. We also just hang out like friends do. Sometimes just throughout the day, God and I do things to remind each other that we’re thinking about each other and like to see each other smile. Sometimes we just hang out and have what I’ve learned to call “bro time” – those times when you’re just sitting there with a pal and you’re both kinda doing your own thing but you’re bonding just by being together. Sometimes we hang out and have what I’ve learned to call “chick time” – those times when you’re eating junk food, watching chick flicks, dancing around and just being silly. Sometimes at night, when speaking doesn’t feel quite right, I just lie there as God and I pour our feelings into each other. You know, I’m always reluctant to leave my friends to go to sleep, but I’m always thrilled to get in bed because I literally feel like I’m curling up to snuggle with the Lord God. That probably sounds silly to most people, but for me personally, it’s a tremendously important aspect of our relationship.