“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
John 10:10b NASB
Do you remember the circumstance surrounding your decision to become a follower of Christ? Someone may have shared scripture (probably John 3:16) and talked about eternal damnation versus eternal joy. They may have spoken about your sinful nature and God’s redemptive character. You may have then been guided to say a prayer inviting Jesus to be part of your life. Was there a sense of awe, excitement, or peace? Was there an expectation that life would be different? Did you wonder what the next steps would be?
During your new life as a follower of Christ, have you experienced a sense of completeness where you have felt God’s presence? It may have materialized as a feeling that made you sense contentment and love. It pushed everything around you away except for the assurance God loves you.
Sadly, this experience does not seem to last long for many making them wonder if we can only feel God’s glory in bits and bytes. While trying to recreate that alive feeling, some people forget what God offers and fall into the trap of trying to evoke God’s presence by acts and words. They replace God’s invite to believe with the idea God wants us to behave. They develop routines and practices to become righteous, which they feel will validate their ticket to heaven. However, in trying to make God come to them, they become tired and confused as if they were continually treading water.
Jesus invites us to stand above the water so we can see the world through His eyes. When we get tired or our burdens seem too heavy, He offers to take up our load. He didn’t say do this or do that, and life will get better. He said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). Not only did Jesus come to save us from eternal separation from God, but He also came so we could have a full life, a life where we could live each day knowing we are loved and blessed by the Creator of the universe. Sadly, too many followers only stop occasionally to be refreshed and renewed while on their journey. They forget to ask God to fill them with His presence and end up living two unfulfilled lives where one foot is in the kingdom on Sundays and one foot in the world all other times daily.
The secularization of our thinking causes many to question God’s truths and promises. Instead of accepting and believing, they challenge God’s motivation. I advocate reading and studying scripture, and I also support meditating and praying about what God is saying to us in scripture and life. Instead of worrying about what you must do to please God, accept that He is pleased, and that is why He chose you to follow Him. Then focus on how He seeks to please you. He wants to fill you with His presence. He wants you to have the joy the peace He offers. He wants you to know that your relationship with Him is crucial, and everything else flows from it.
Will you talk with God about your relationship with Him? There are no exercises, exams, or Ten Step programs to help with this relationship, only direct communication. Talk with God in your own words and tell Him what you desire in your relationship. Talk about those moments where all felt right with God and ask Him for more of that connection. Do you think you can take some time each day to reflect on what it means to be in God’s presence? Can you find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed and talk with God about wanting more of Him, about needing help with your faith? When you seek to understand your relationship with Jesus, you will be transformed, your faith will grow, and you will sense more of Him.