There are many things I know about. When I was in elementary school, I did a presentation on New Mexico. I talked about the desert atmosphere, the number of immigrants in that state as opposed to my own, midwestern state, and the traditional foods that come from that part of the country.
But I do not know New Mexico like the family I grew up with who moved there a few years ago with their small children. I do not know the land like those who spend their days on the land, raising cattle and praying for the heavens to drop water on the dry ground.
There are many other subjects that I have head knowledge of, but no practical understanding.
And the same applies to my faith.
Cognitively knowing about God is not the same as having an intimate, life-changing understanding of who the Creator of all things seen and unseen is and what He has done for me.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths. – Psalm 135:16-17, ESV
We can know what God has done. We can read the stories and believe they are true but if we do not spend time with the living God, if we do not shape our lives around His work, we will never truly know Him.We can know what God has done. We can read the stories and believe they are true but if we do not spend time with the living God, if we do not shape our lives around His work, we will never truly know Him. Click To Tweet
I can recite the Bible and share stories of the saints who have gone before me, sustained by the Holy Spirit. But that’s simply not enough.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! – James 2:19, ESV
The words that James writes always jar me back into reality. They wake up my little Christian American mind and call me to something new, something different than the world around me.
Because the world around me, they say they believe. They say they know God, but often they mean that they have a vague remembrance of Bible stories they heard as a child and believe in a higher power. But they do not truly know God.
To truly know God, we must give up our presuppositions of God.
A God who does not challenge our lives is no god at all. He is simply a glorified version of ourselves.A God who does not challenge our lives is no god at all. He is simply a glorified version of ourselves. Click To Tweet
If we are not discovering a God outside of ourselves, a God who challenges our ideas of what is right and what is wrong, a God who reshapes our priorities, and a God who requires something of our day to day lives, we have not truly known God.
Knowing God requires spending time with Him.
We need to be on our knees in prayer before His throne, adoring who He is and asking to see more of His glory. His grandeur is displayed in Creation and portrayed in the Bible. Digging deep into passages about the characteristics of God, understanding His nature through what He has done, then turning and praising Him is an excellent way to spend time with Him.
Knowing God requires learning about Him.
Head knowledge is a basis for practical knowledge. When I go on vacation, I don’t simply get out of my car and start wandering, I do research. I read about the experiences of other’s and try to gauge what my experience will be. Then, when I arrive, I am prepared to know where I will find food and where I will find the ocean.
Likewise, I read about who God is not because that is all I need, but because that is a great starting point. After reading about what He has done in history and in the lives of the saints who have gone before, I am able to recognize Him in my own life more easily. I am able to see where He sustains me because I know how He has sustained others.
Knowing God requires my heart.
I cannot half-heartedly try to know God. He is so much more than we can ever know. To even attempt it cannot be a half-hearted effort, it must be something I devote my entire self to.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. – Matthew 22:37 ESV
Knowing who God is, not just about Him, takes every part of who I am. Just like a baby knows their mother because of their total dependence on her, so we know God best when every part of us relies on Him.
We cannot settle. It is not enough to know about God, we must pursue Him intimately.
And the beautiful thing is that, when we do, He has promised to meet us. When we hunger and thirst for Him, He will never leave us parched.
Dear Lord, Open our eyes and our ears that we may see You in our days. Give us hearts that long as a babe crying for its mother in the night for your sustaining presence. Forgive us for being satisfied with keeping You at an arm’s length, satisfied with only head knowledge and bring us close Your chest that we might know the feeling of the breath You breathed into mankind filling You lungs.
Renew in us the joy of Your salvation. Let us know You that every fiber of our being may be filled with holy awe of who You are and what You have done. Amen.
For Further Reading:
Prayer: A Private Devotion (+A Free Prayer Journal)