Here is another excerpt from the book I was writing three years ago. This is how I describe a relationship with God. How do you tell the story?
“Give me rules, I will break them
Give me lines, I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet
It ought to be more like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling in love
Give me words, I’ll misuse them
Obligations, I’ll misplace them
‘Cause all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free
It’s like I’m falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me”
-Jason Gray “More Like Falling In Love”
I had something pretty remarkable happen to me the other day. A friend that I had not seen or spoken with in several months contacted me out of the blue and wanted to meet with me. As we sat down and talked through all the necessary small talk, we came to the real reason she wanted to get together. I was blown away by what she asked me: “How do you develop a romance with God?”
What an amazing question! However, I discovered that it is a difficult question to answer on the spot. How would you describe falling in love? There is so much that cannot be put into words.
Developing a romance with God is such a beautiful thing, however difficult it may be to describe. There is nothing like dancing through life with the King of Kings. Sometimes when we think of church, we may have the idea that prayer and knowing God is boring. When I was a teenager, I was afraid of giving God my whole life because I thought that I would turn into something that I really did not want to be: a boring person. I would agree that the way many people try to make prayer into a “religious activity” rather than a faith activity is very unexciting, but that really has nothing to do with knowing God. Since I finally broke down and fully gave my life to Him, there has never been a dull moment.
So how does one come to KNOW God? First of all, we cannot forget the VERY IMPORTANT part that this whole Christian thing (or whatever you want to call it) is really a RELATIONSHIP. If I want to know God, He cannot continue to only be words on a screen while the worship band is playing or stories in a dusty old Bible on the shelf. It will require my time, energy, and focus. It will require being open to cutting some things out of my life that are not pleasing to Him. It will require steps of faith as He leads me into some uncertain waters. However, before you close the book and decide that it’s not worth it, give it a chance. Following God is such a grand adventure, and I guarantee that when you really get a taste of who He is and how much He loves you and the world, He will be a hard One to resist.
I grew up in church, and although it was a wonderful thing to hear about Christ and all the stories in the Bible from a young age, some things I began to tune out because it was “old news.” “For God so loved the world…” yada yada yada. I even learned how to save a person in three steps. What was new and exciting was what was happening OUTSIDE the church. When kids grow to the stage where they realize that not every family was exactly like their family and not everyone thinks like they do, it is not difficult to see why they could easily be drawn away from the church. There’s a whole wide world just waiting for them to explore. Why would they choose a weekly gathering of a few songs and a half hour listening to someone talk? They can and they do, when they realize that following God is so much more than that hour every week at that one building on that one street that they’ve gone to since they could burp. It’s more than a truth to believe or an allegiance to be given away. It’s more like falling in love.
When I meet someone that I like, I want to know certain things about him. What are his interests? What kinds of activities does he like to do? Who are his friends? What aspirations does he have for his life? What are his passions? What is his history? What is his family like? What are some attributes that he looks for in someone he loves? The list could go on and on. It is really no different when we want to “fall in love” with God. Get to know Him. Answer the questions about Him that you would want to know from that someone else. When you look at the Bible from a relational perspective, it’s amazing how much it is all about answering these questions!
As a relationship develops, you start to wonder what is going on in his mind at certain moments of the day. You watch his facial expressions carefully to try to guess what he is thinking. You study his behavior and start to realize patterns and can learn to predict how he will react to stressful situations. You watch how he treats other people, and when you really feel comfortable with him, you invite him to meet your friends. Now think about God. How often do you sit down and wonder what is going on in His mind? Do you watch His actions in the world and study His behavior? Have you noticed His pattern of faithfulness to always be there in good times and in bad times and to provide when things are tight? Do you listen to the testimonies of other Christians and see how He is touching and affecting their lives? Do you feel comfortable enough to introduce Him to your friends?
Then it comes time for a commitment. He gets down on one knee and asks you to marry him. And you say yes! Then a couple days later, it hits you: you’re going to be living with him. You discuss together the things you will have in your apartment or house, because you will be sharing everything. Do you want to keep my couch or yours? Do you REALLY need that 165” TV? These discussions continue throughout the first year or so of marriage. “Honey, could I have five dollars, please?” “Sweetheart, I thought I gave you five dollars last week!” or “This credit card statement says you spent $150 dollars at Payless? You spent $150 on SHOES?” 365 days of burnt meals later, you can finally make fish that does not require a visit from the fire department, and the most thankful person in the world is your husband. Things are rocky to say the least, but you are learning what it means to really let someone into your life, space, and bubble. Through give and take, sacrifice and surprises, you realize that love isn’t about all those mushy feelings. It is about so much more.
Could it be that it is the same way with God? Eventually, you’ll have to do more than just walk through the park with Him. He is going to want a commitment. Then you will share everything. The hard part comes in deciding what to keep and what to trash. If you are going to be living with a holy God, then some not-so-holy things are going to have to go. Your priorities and resources are no longer your own to decide. You will be accountable to Him. And you’re going to mess up and need a few fires put out here and there, but don’t worry, He’ll eat the fish until you get it right, and He’ll do it with a smile. Relationships can be frustrating and require a lot of work. However, when you realize that loving God is a lot more than feeling close to Him all the time, it makes it a lot easier to stick with Him, even when He makes you angry and you don’t understand what in the world He is doing. He loves you, and you love Him, and you are in it for the long haul.
Something that is pretty incredible about watching people who have been (happily) married for a long time is how it seems like they are both unique but ultimately one person. You go to dinner with them, and they will tell stories about the other one all night long. They finish each other’s sentences, and when the husband forgets the name of that one lady with the two eyes and the nose, the wife knows exactly who he is talking about. When you examine a couple that has been married 50 years, they often have similar features because over time they have watched and imitated each others’ facial expressions to the point that they literally look like each other. When one gazes into the face of the other, she sees the only person who has traveled throughout the journey with her, was there with her when her parents died and when she was diagnosed with cancer. He stood by her through the radiation treatments and held her tight as she cried when her hair started to fall out due to the chemotherapy. They watched their children grow up and went to their baseball games and ballet recitals. They saw their grandchildren born. Their love is much deeper than it was the day they were married because they have grown through the good times and bad times…TOGETHER.
I have a friend named Bonnie. If there is anyone that I know who has fallen in love and lived life with Jesus, it is her. You go to dinner with her, and she talks about Him the whole time. She can see the things that are happening in the lives of those around her and know what God is up to. Perhaps the most amazing thing about her is that she has gazed into the face of God so many times, that when I look at her, I can’t see anything but Him. She has gone through countless mountaintops and valleys with Him, and she has cried on His shoulder and He has confided in her His dreams. Her love for Him grows deeper every day, because He is the only One who saw it all and they have grown through the good times and bad times…TOGETHER.
God wants to have that kind of relationship WITH YOU! He wants the kind of love that grows stronger over time as two hearts become one and as they journey together. Like the couple who has been married for 50 years and knows everything good and bad about the other and still loves him anyway, God wants you, with all your faults, insecurities, and clumsiness. He wants your fish, just the way you make it, and He loves to brag on you to everyone He knows. Do you want that kind of a relationship with Him? Let Him romance you. He’s the best at it because He CREATED it!
As you grow with Him, you will start to see the world through His eyes. The things that bring Him joy will bring you joy, and the things that bring Him sorrow will break your heart. The annoying coworker that “has it in for you” at work becomes another hurting soul that God is seeking to heal. The hungry child from the Congo who is shown on TV is no longer just a face without a name. If not even a sparrow can fall from the sky without God knowing, how much more He must care that this little one has something to eat tonight. As He moves your heart, you are moved to action, and you begin to realize that the talents you have that never seemed to make sense before now fit and bring purpose and fulfillment as you see these needs and follow God in meeting them. What an exciting journey life can be when lived in step with the God of the Universe!
As you follow God and begin to fall in love with Him, it becomes obvious to those around you. There is something attractive about a person who is really becoming who they were created to be. The longer you walk with God and as you gaze into His face, like my friend Bonnie, your life will become transparent. When people around you look at you, they will see God and nothing else. Even those who have never met Him will come to know His character as they watch you, and as they gaze into His face through your life, they will start to look like Him too.
You see, I don’t change so that God will love me. Being loved by God changes me. As I live life with Him, I take on His characteristics and mannerisms. I naturally live out His will for His glory as I come to know Him more, because what is important to Him becomes important to me. Likewise, who I become in my passion and my obedience is my gift back to Him. Eleanor Powell said it just right: “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” Will you become a person who is madly in love with God? What is He speaking to you about today?