Not long ago, a reader asked for advice on how to get to know God and “dig deeper.” I began by giving her the “pat” answer, worship, prayer, etc. but then really started to ask myself: what are the things that have drawn me closer to God? If I had to name just one thing that has brought me closer to the Lord than anything else, it wouldn’t be worship or prayer or bible study. It was a conversation with a friend that led me to start making efforts to show God that I love Him.
That may sound overly simple, but I think that for many of us it isn’t at all. Several months ago, I was sharing with my friend some things from my past that hurt me deeply and caused me to see God not as a loving Father, but as a vengeful force just waiting to punish me for the slightest mishap. I’ve struggled with this concept of God for years, but could never seem to get over it. It affected every part of my relationship with Him, but especially my ability to give and receive love to and from Him. As I was speaking to my friend about this, he said somewhat forcefully: “You’re punishing God for something that someone else did.” I was floored. I’d never, ever thought of it that way. I had all these ideas about who God was that were based on past hurts inflicted on me by someone else! I asked my friend how I could change that, and gain an understanding of God’s love for me. My friend encouraged me to stop focusing on how I could feel God’s love for ME and instead focus on how I could show God that I love HIM. Not in any huge “worship-for-an-hour-followed-by-three-hours-of-prayer” kind of way, but in little things. “Pick some flowers for Him,” my friend encouraged.
I’ll admit, it felt a little silly to go outside that day and pick flowers for God. But that day, and for weeks following it, I tried to find some way to tell God that I loved him each day. Once I took pictures just for Him (I never published them or showed them to anyone else.) Another time I played a song for Him on the violin (it has been YEARS since I’ve done that.) And I picked lots and lots of flowers. :) The funny thing is that through those acts of saying “I love you” to God, His presence and His love for me manifested themselves in truly wonderful and amazing ways. The more I concentrated on loving God and showing Him that I loved Him, the more I began to feel His love for me. I can’t explain that, but can honestly say that it was a turning point in my relationship with Him.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
Now I have a love letter to write. :)