When I was in elementary school, it was common practice to proclaim your affections for a girl by passing her the customary note of intent. This note was quite simple in content. It was a question: "Will you be my girlfriend? Check YES or NO." This method was simple and to the point. I witnessed many moments of joy when the answer was YES...and I saw the gloomy response to rejection when she checked NO.
For the record, I witnessed all of this secondhand...basically because I was shy and never got the courage up to write one of these notes! I can also tell you that after nearly ten years of marriage to my amazing wife, I have no regrets about being a chicken in grade school! I can assure you that it all worked out!
Anyway, I have been thinking about how we relate to God lately and I see some similarities between us and these schoolyard lovebirds. I remember watching fellow third and fourth graders refer to each other as boyfriend & girlfriend. This was a big deal! This was a way to be labeled or titled among your peers. You had somebody who claimed you as their own...and that was a good feeling! However, most of these romances were very limited. Many of these "couples" only saw each other once a day on the playground. I remember some that referred to each other as "going out" that NEVER actually hung out at all! Their relationship was just a way of being identified. In all honesty, there really was not much of a relationship at all.
You can probably see where I am going with this. Many people in our churches today are quick to identify themselves as being in a relationship with Jesus. However, many of these "relationships" are not very deep or healthy. Imagine trying to date someone but you never spend any time with them. Think of it this way: What if you spent the same amount of time with your special someone as you do with Jesus? For many American Christians, this boils down to an hour or two on Sunday and maybe another hour on Wednesday. I can tell you this. If I only interacted with my wife for that amount of time each week, our relationship would be in serious trouble!
Your walk with the Lord is a relationship. It is so much more that checking YES on your note from God...or repeating a prayer so you will be identified as a Christian who will go to Heaven some day. It is a real relationship that, just like any other, will grow deeper and sweeter with each moment you spend together! When I am traveling and have to be away from my wife and kids for any amount of time, I begin to miss them like crazy. Last summer, while in Nicaragua on a mission trip, I even found myself talking to pictures of them on my phone! I missed being with them...I missed that fellowship! It should be no different when it comes to your relationship with Jesus. As you grow in your daily walk with Him, you will crave that time with Him and miss spending time with Him when you haven't done it.
So...How do we get to this point in our relationship with the Lord? James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you..." If you want to know God in a deeper way, you must spend more time with Him. This is primarily done through reading the Bible (His Word to us) and through prayer. Prayer is basically having an honest conversation with God. The Bible tells us to seek Him out and He will make Himself known to us. He loves you and He created you to have a relationship with Him. Will you draw near to Him today?
If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to contact me through this site or by finding me on Twitter: @thenealhartley