I am titling this Getting to Know God with purpose, not just because it fits, but because I want to bounce off the cliché essence of the phrase, in our Christian circles. Yes, we serve a relational God, and in my experience, that's what it's all about.
As my long suffering wife knows, I am not so much a "rule follower" by nature. Not that I don't try to adhere to essential edicts that keep me (and us) safe and smart with what God has given us to steward, but let's just say I tend to be, ahem, "creative" at finding ways to apply them. "Whatever Terry,” I hear Colby saying somewhere behind me.
For me, I have a hard time buying into a rigid religious system. A REALLY hard time. Typically, it has produced cynicism, frustration, loneliness, and a separation from the heart of God. I can honestly say it's only been the last several years that I've finally come to realize, in my heart of hearts, that God truly LOVES me. Not in the biblical "Christian Code of Conduct" sense, but one on one, father to son, friend to friend.
Why did it take me so long to open up to him? I'm not sure. Yes we all have on blinders, at many, many points along our spiritual journeys. But for someone who has grown up on this road of faith, I would have thought I'd arrive here many years ago. Sometimes I am a bit ashamed, quite frankly, that it's taken me so long.
About 6 years ago I found myself trying to enter in during a worship time at CitySalt. I just couldn't. No words, no melody, just quiet tears. This scenario lasted for months. I remembered back to so many instances before that when I viewed worship as kind of emotional fluff. Ya ya, let's move on and get to the real MEAT of the service. Pastor, give me something good here. My attempts at worship seemed forced. The emotional gap between me and God seemed vast, and in retrospect, emotional closeness to God through worship was painful. Thinking holy thoughts about God through theology was easy. We gravitate towards easy, don't we?
A portion of all this (yes too much) was tied to my circumstances, and of course, that whole is-sue is a double-edged sword. I heard that God, as any father would, wanted to bless me in my personal need. But I also knew I didn't want to base my relationship to God on whether or not I achieved some sort of comfort, position, or security. That felt inauthentic, like a distant relative fighting over a deceased patriarch's will. I craved the real thing, a connection to the heart of God, regardless of my circumstances.
Getting to know God is like getting to know your spouse, or anyone in your life you deeply care about. It takes time. It takes effort. But at its core, it's about true connection. We can't know God without really KNOWING him. "Knowledge about" isn't the end game. It's knowledge plus shared acts of kindness plus forgiveness received plus history together and lessons learned. The result = getting to know the REAL God. And getting to know our true selves in the process.