I’ll never forget what he said.
A group of us men were sitting in a circle discussing the question of the day. Does God:
A) Give us His word as a set of principles to provide guidelines for our lives?
B) Offer us a relationship by which we communicate with Him in a personal dialogue?
Caleb shared his personal story. For years he studied the Scriptures, using the most accurate translations, consulting a stack of commentaries, seeking sound doctrine through faithful Biblical interpretation. One day he realized that he had accumulated enough data about God to fill a file cabinet.
“But you can’t hug a file cabinet.”
I sat there with my jaw dropped open. He just told my story. My file cabinet wasn’t much of a hugger either. I knew God promised more in a relationship with Him than I had yet experienced. That’s why I was sitting there with those men.
Caleb said that he now enjoyed a close personal relationship with God that included spiritual conversation with Him . I wanted that. But I had no idea how to get it. I sat between a file cabinet and a question mark.
I began trying to cultivate spiritual intimacy with God by creating space for our relationship. But being alone with God just felt like being alone. Quietly listening to God was like holding a seashell to my ear–sounds like the ocean. I felt like:
- I was sitting alone in a waiting room
- I was spending time with my imaginary friend
- I was becoming more intimately familiar with a sense of His absence
In time, here’s what I discovered. Although it felt like God wasn’t present with me, actually, I had to learn to be present with Him. Though it felt like God wasn’t speaking to me, really, I had to learn how to listen to Him. It felt like God had shut and locked His door to me, but I found that I had to learn to open my double-bolted door to Him.
Relationship takes time, and God is patient in relationship building. I had to learn cooperation with God, alone and in spiritual community. In His time, the Spirit performed His necessary work of soul healing and heart transformation, so that I have begun to enjoy deeper relational intimacy with God.
And I do believe it’s only the beginning.
That’s my experience. What’s yours?