REVELATIONS: Walk with God is lifelong
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It's been many years now, but I remember what my life looked like before I knew God. Growing up, I clung to a nominal version of Christianity. It was a cultural identity at best. But my belief in God as a loving triune entity, and as someone who desires a personal relationship with me came later.
And it didn't come all at once. I didn't accept Christ in my heart one day, and suddenly realized all my problems, hurts, addictions and weaknesses were gone.
My relationship with God developed over many years, and he ultimately helped shine a spotlight on the problems, addictions, hurts, and weaknesses that needed to be dealt with - and that he and I needed to deal with together. And that's why a personal relationship with God is so important. Because I needed to able to ask him, "Show me what it is about my life that doesn't honor you. And show me how to change it."
You can't ask that question with an impersonal God.
And it's not always an easy question to ask because he can show you some pretty nasty things about yourself that need work.
But I guess I'd rather be a work in progress than someone who refuses to spiritually mature.
When I look back even six or seven years ago, it's evident where I've made tremendous strides in my spiritual growth - even if it seemed then, I wasn't changing at all.
And I know when my Christian friends and family reflect on my spiritual maturity, they too, see how far I've come.
I guess because I didn't grow up "churched," and chose to follow Christ on my own, I've developed a soft spot in my heart for God-seekers, just as I was years ago.
Maybe it's because I remember how much I struggled to conceptualize and fathom God once upon a time, or understand why I needed faith at all.
Maybe it's because I remember how sweet it was in the beginning when I first realized God was wooing me, courting me, gently asking me to hold his hand.
Maybe it's because I've seen how patient he's been with me all these years, and how I can tell you first-hand that individual change, growth and kept promises are real.
In any case, I've met many people in my lifetime, especially in the past six or seven years, who have embarked upon the age-old path of spiritual enlightenment. Like me, these God-seekers needed to know who God was, and why they should believe.
And just like my faith encouragers did for me when I was God-seeking, I always encouraged God-seekers to explore the supernatural without pressuring them to believe. I ultimately knew if God was who he claimed to be, I would only need to love them unconditionally, pray for them ceaselessly, and answer their questions joyfully when they were ready to ask.
The rest was up to God, and I always knew he'd do the heavy lifting.
And I always knew that when they made the leap from "maybe" to "definitely," it was because they chose him. It's one of the most amazing things to witness because you see God answering your prayers - specific prayers about that person that you've said for months and years, finally become reality. You see the joy that takes over the person and the transformation that follows.
About a year ago, I started praying for a loved one who was clearly struggling with the idea of God. His wasn't necessarily an issue of unbelief, but more of a battle with the idea that God wants a personal relationship.
He struggled with prayer as a dialogue and not a repetitious chant. He struggled with past guilt, and the concept of total redemption - without having to earn it. He struggled with hurts, addictions, problems and weaknesses that needed to be dealt with, but needed a personal God to deal with them.
So every week for the past year, we talked about those things, sometimes for hours at a time. And every week, no matter what he threw at me, I waited for him to ask me questions. Sometimes I'd know the answer, and sometimes I didn't. But I always left our conversations feeling burdened to pray for him.
Recently, a few of my dusty prayers have started to become reality. For whatever reason, my friend has decided to explore personal relationship with God through prayer. He's also started going back to church, listening to worship music and allowing himself to believe that God may actually be who he claims to be.
One year in, and it's only the beginning of my friend's new journey.
Because I've been so invested in his walk the past year, I get the bonus reward of having my own faith restored over and over through watching God answer my prayers. And I'm reminded through my friend's journey how God loves us no matter where we are in our walk.
I'm reminded of the importance of a personal relationship with God, and that just like with any other relationship, it really is a lifelong journey. I can't wait to see where both of us are in our walks next year, and the years to come.