I grew up going to church, my Dad is a pastor so I always heard God talked about. Although, at some point you actually have to have your own relationship with God outside of what others tell you about Him. When you’re a kid, you’re told about God and Jesus and how wonderful they are, but you have to then have your own relationship with God. For example, if you have a grandparent that lives far away and your Mom always talks to you about how wonderful her mother is and how much she loves her and how great their relationship is. Does that mean that you have a relationship with your grandmother because your Mom has an amazing relationship with her? No, it doesn’t. You may be really excited to meet her one day and you may want a relationship with her, but you don’t have one yet. It’s the same thing with God, we have to make that transition from being told about how wonderful He is and how much He loves us to actually knowing that to be the truth for ourselves. And the only way to do that is to actually have a relationship with Him.
Going back to the example of the grandmother. How would you get to know her? You’d call her, talk to her, maybe write her letters, Skype and hopefully visit with her. Get to know her by spending a lot of time with her. Eventually you’ll get to see how wonderful she is for yourself and you’ll love her as much as your Mom does. With God, it’s different. Well, it was different for me because I can’t see Him. You can talk to Him, but most people don’t audibly hear Him speaking to them like you do with a person sitting in front of you or even over the phone. It’s usually not an actually dialogue for most people. For me, it was hard to kind of have a one way conversation. And then there was of course the whole, He’s the creator of the universe, the most powerful being ever that knows everything there is to know and is greater than anything I could ever imagine. The closest thing we have to that here on earth is royalty, presidents, prime ministers, etc. Those people aren’t really all that accessible! You have to be really ‘important’ or ‘run in their circle’ to get access to them. And unless you’re really really close to them, you don’t have unlimited access to them. There are only a handful of people that can just pick up the phone and get President Obama on the phone when the want him. So for me, there was also the kind of unrelatable, unreachable aspect to God. Then you mix in the ‘why did this happen to me’, ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’, ‘why is life hard’ kind of questions that most people usually ask of God and tend to blame Him for. All these things kind of end up making God into this cold, aloof, mysterious, hard to reach, unfeeling dictator.
Once I decided to really start spending time with God on a daily basis and getting to know Him for myself and not letting what other people told me about Him enter into my opinion of Him, I really got to know Him better. Nothing can take the place of spending quality time with God, just like you spend quality time with anyone you’re close to. But what were the two things that really impacted my relationship with Him?
One: I started talking out loud to Him. Some people may already do this, and in the past I probably uttered a “Lord, please help me” or something to that effect out loud when I was frustrated or something really bad or stressful was going on. But, I mean, like actually talking out loud like a conversation, like I do when I speak to people. I always used to (and still do at times) pray silently in my head. I have prayed out loud in a group and I have heard other people pray out loud at church and things like that. I mean, instead of saying my prayers silently in my head, I say them out loud. I found that it made it feel more natural.
Two: I started calling God Abba. Galatians 4:6 says: And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Of course I had heard God referred to as our Father and God the Father, etc, but for some reason “Abba” made it more personal. Maybe because that was probably what Jesus called Him when He was on earth. It made God feel so much more like my Father. It has changed the way I look at Him completely. It is so endearing to me. I really see myself as His child now. When I pray about something and it doesn’t happen the way I would like, I think of Him as my Abba that knows what’s best for me and He is not keeping something good from me. He knows what is best and loves me unconditionally.
When I speak out loud to Him and say “Hello Abba…” I feel a deeper connection with Him. He is not some unfeeling dictator that just wants it done His way for the sake of having it His way. I see Him like a loving parent. All good parents lead and guide their children. They chastise, praise, discipline and love their children. When you’re a child, you may not understand why your parent tells you you can’t do something you want to do, or tells you to do something you don’t want to do. But when you’re older you understand. The same is true with God. Even though we’re adults, there are so many things we don’t understand. We just have to trust that our Abba loves us so much that He would never lead us down the wrong path and is always doing what is best for us.
Let me know what has helped you with your relationship with God!