February 7, 2012

Pressing on to know God

Known to be an “information gatherer” I love it when people ask me to look up something for them. Search engines are my friend. My Logos 4 Bible program with its incredible search features allow me to look up topics from more than a thousand resources. Gathering data and doing research could occupy my entire day if I didn’t have other responsibilities. 
With that mindset, when I became a Christian, I wanted to know everything about God. I read the Bible cover to cover many times, and filled stacks of notebooks with devotional and study thoughts. However, I’ve learned something during these years; knowing facts about God is not the same as knowing God.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
I’ve met a few famous people, shook their hand or ate at the same table. But do I know them? Hardly. Knowing someone involves spending time with them, but it also involves their willingness to open up themselves to me. I might observe a well-known author eat steak and refuse garlic toast, but unless he tells me he is a celiac, I only know what I observe. Unless he says how much he misses eating bread, I will not know anything about this person’s particular desires and struggles.

Knowing God is a bit like that, except that God is not like us. The attitudes of His great heart are pure and filled with love for His people. He sacrificed His Son that we might have eternal life. He works both in the background and in the foreground to shower blessings on us. He takes care of our needs, forgives our sins, heals our diseases, bidding us to walk and talk with Him. Yet God is a mystery, a Spirit that we cannot see or touch. How can we really know Him?

I’ve learned that God does not do anything to make Himself known to those who are not interested. As Hosea says, He wants His people to press on to know Him, make an effort, make ourselves open to Him. Since He is Spirit and communicates to us through His Book and His Spirit, how then can this be a two-way relationship?

Part of pressing on to know God is being open to what others have discovered in their pursuit to know Him. Books like The Pleasures of God by John Piper and The Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock and a score of others have given me insights into this God that I serve, insights that these men gleaned through their experience of Him. This then is key to truly knowing Him; through our experiences with Him. 

When I was a new Christian, I had a bill that had to be paid and no money. The Bible says that God will take care of our needs, so I prayed. God supplied money to pay that bill in a totally unexpected way. From that point until today, I’ve never doubted that God will supply all my needs. The Bible says that He will, and I thought that He would when I prayed, but from my experience with Him, I really know it.
Every attribute of God is described in His Word. I believe Him when He says He knows the number of hairs on my head, yet when every day He directs me to exactly what I need to read or know or remember about Him for that day, then I know that He is deeply interested in the details of my life.

The Bible says Christians are to walk by faith, not by sight. That is true. We do not ask God to prove that He cares by doing this or that. We believe that He cares, and when we believe and press on to know Him, He shows His care in lovely and unexpected ways. He reveals the unseen truth so that we might know Him better. As we walk and talk with Him, He opens His heart to us.

Lord, I was going to go on a rant today about a certain cult that thinks it is Satan who answers the prayers of Christians, but You remind me that this is not about my smarts and their stupidity. It is about truly knowing You, something that is impossible to those without faith. Even as I wrote that sentence, I remember that my faith is also a gift from You, given by grace to sinners such as I. Without You, what would I know or think about spiritual things? I would be no wiser than anyone else.

You are an amazing God, full of mercy and kindness, able to take care of every need. As I press on to know You, You continually make Yourself known to me. This is a mystery, and amazing, and I am totally grateful that You allow Yourself to be known.

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