Knowing God – can the created know the Creator, the One Who created the vast expanse? We could fill hard drive libraries discussing this topic and still barely scratch the surface. Yet, my heart leaps with excitement as I consider all the ways He has provided for us to do just that. We were created to be His family, so the logical answer would seem to be yes. This is not meant to be a theological discussion – I am the first to admit I would be completely unqualified from that perspective. What I am qualified to share is my experience over forty-five years and the adventure it has led me to in recent years. From that perspective I can conclusively say – YES – it is possible, I am living it! I accumulated a lot of “head” knowledge about God. Gnostic Christianity which is knowledge based, is lived out in the mind. Dynamic, intimate, alive relationship with God is experienced and lived from your heart! The difference is night and day.
2 Corinthians 5:12-21TPT says: For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and holds us tightly, because we are convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, 15so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again. 16So, from now on, we refuse to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances. For that’s how we once viewed the Anointed One, but no longer do we see him with limited human insight. 17Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. 18And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 19In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. 20We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.” 21For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.
Allow me to give you some background. I grew up in a traditional denominational church where I felt more judged than loved. At the age of fifteen, I rebelled and began a tumultuous ten years before finding myself longing for something I innately knew was missing. I was living in a neighboring province, and had just married for the second time, naively believing this would surely fill the void in my heart. It became a troubled marriage very quickly, not surprisingly, considering we were unhealthy, unwise, and completely lost. Not knowing where to turn, I began to ask some deep questions about my existence and the God I tenuously believed had created me. This was the beginning of my forty plus year journey of seeking, believing, doubting – all while attempting to navigate the stormy seas around me – tenaciously hanging on, often by a mere thread. When I read Billy Graham’s book “How to Be Born Again” I was sure he had written it with me in mind. Shortly afterward we were invited to an outdoor service and it was there I raised my hand in response to an invitation to express interest, being much too afraid to accept the initial invite to come to the front. In the secrecy of my bedroom, I knelt and followed the instructions of the book I had read to receive the new birth. I somehow knew I had just entered into relationship with an unknown, very big – and admittedly scary – God. I didn’t understand much else but I sensed I had embarked on a completely different path of life than anything I had ever encountered.
I was deeply drawn to God and I had an intense longing to know Him. I spent hours in prayer, even though I had not a clue how to pray. I was green as grass. I came across a book called The God You Can Know written by Dan DeHaan. I devoured it. I eventually lent it to a friend and it was out of my possession for several years. At a later time, when I had briefly drifted away from an active faith walk, I was reminded of this book I had so valued and tracked it down. I recount this only as evidence of the desire and hunger in my heart to know God, even from those early days.
The Bible refers to our “first love” in Revelation as something we can lose and need to return to. I remember my first love – I felt brand new, alive, and so excited for the future. Within that initial church fellowship, I was amazed to observe people who genuinely seemed happy – they were kind, giving, caring and forgiving. Initially I thought for sure they were play-acting – this couldn’t be real, but over time as I got to know them I discovered this wasn’t an act. My walls started to come down and I began to trust their guidance, eager to learn how to walk in this new life.
After a few years, life threw me some curveballs and I moved away – from what had been a safe, warm, well resourced incubator for a brand new believer to grow and thrive. As life ebbed and flowed I found myself in a few different denominational churches – each one with their flavor of doctrinal beliefs. Over several years I slowly began to realize most of the focus was directed toward modifying the believer’s behavior – and I started to sense those familiar feelings of never being able to live up to their expectations. I wanted to change but I was experiencing deep frustration because my patterns of failure continued to operate in my life – in spite of my best efforts to “fix” them. In fact, it seemed the teaching from the church on how to experience change and successfully meet and sustain this Biblical standard for my behavior – was noticeably absent.
By this time, I was in serious trouble – I found myself in a repetitive pattern of relationship failure. Basically, as one friend described it, I had married the same guy a few times, only each time he had a different name! Divorce was not God’s plan – I understood that. Church life became a place where I basically hung my head in shame, deferring to everyone else as qualified while I remained on the back bench, unqualified – unworthy – believing I could never live in the promises of God, the victory of God and the abundant life the scriptures promised. Sadly, intuitively, I began to get a sense that maybe there were others who were feeling the same. As I looked around the body of believers I worshipped with, I was hard pressed to find even a few who were living abundantly – it seemed it wasn’t working for them or me! And I had complete faith that God doesn’t lie – His Word is true – and if He said it, we should be able to experience it!
As I began to ask questions, He faithfully opened the door to Biblical teaching that would challenge me, frighten me and open the door to a whole new way of life – a life where I would actually begin to experience the goodness of God – in my heart!
I remember Him showing me a vast field. I could see where it started, but not where it ended. It was like a line was drawn between here and there. I felt impressed there was “a pearl of great price” within this new “realm.” I clearly sensed if I accepted the invitation to step over the line and enter this new place, there would be no going back. I also understood this was going to require courage and a lot of faith. As I considered all this, I knew there was nothing to go back to and everything to gain by moving forward. With my heart pumping with fear, I made the choice to step over the line and move onto this vast, seemingly unending field that held such mystery and promise.
What happened next is best described by Colossians 3:1-4TPT:
1Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honor, and authority! 2Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. 3Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. 4And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with him in his glory!
Verses 3 and 4 explain my experience. As I began to understand my true life was hidden away in God in Christ, I began to study Who Jesus is – what His death, burial and three days in the grave, as well as His resurrection, actually meant. And what happened next is giving me goose bumps as I type this – who I really am began to be revealed to me. My original creation identity began to emerge.
As I sought to know Christ, an insatiable desire to know Him more and more began to well up inside me. The process I described above became the portal through which I have discovered and experienced intimacy with “the God you can know!”
I hope you will join me for my next post – Part Two – where I will explain the two doctrinal stumbling blocks I had to “unlearn” – clearing the way for me to experience permanent behavior change. And how falling in love with Jesus and experiencing Him as He truly is, set me free from the fruitless pursuit of trying to earn His love and acceptance.