"I believe in God...but I don't have a relationship with Him"
These were the words that were spoken to me by someone I love dearly.
My response: "well, how would you define a good relationship?" or in better words: "what does a good relationship require?"
These were the responses that followed:
When it comes to the qualities we look for in a friend or partner, the we need in order to define a relationship as "good" or "fulfilling"...
I am here to inform you that God actually earns for these same qualities in His relationship with YOU.
In fact, a relationship with God should consist of trust, laughter, communication, consistency, AND should even be spontaneous.
I write this from the perspective of someone who was also lost in my understanding of what a relationship with God looked like for 90% of my existence.
I have now not only came into this understanding 22 years later- but have had the blessing of experiencing all 5 of the words listed in my relationship with Him.
At this point you may be thinking, "okay that sounds cool, but how?" or "well they definitely don't teach you that in church."
To which I would consider valid responses.
I'll begin with the main thing I have learned through this journey is that we can't just expect God to start pursuing us in all of those ways- unless we are actively pursuing Him back.
Lets Start With Each One-
The key component to ANY good relationship & something that ANY good relationship requires.
How do we begin building this with God?
Simple, put the maker to the test.
Key Word: Activate
One of the biggest lies we are taught is that it's "easy" to have Faith or that Faith is "natural."
In reality, Faith is probably the farthest thing from "natural".
However, as humans we know that fear and doubt are both incredibly easy AND natural.
If you are reading this with an absence of Faith, maybe you've never talked to God or don't know how or where to begin...here is my recommendation to you...
ASK GOD TO REVEAL HIMSELF TO YOU.
Literally say those words, & maybe even specifically ask Him for a sign that only you can understand.
Well, the coolest thing about God is that He made each of us unique for a reason.
Therefore, He speaks to each of us and REVEALS HIMSELF to each of us in unique ways.
Maybe you have never felt God because the church you were raised in taught you that seeing God or hearing God had to look like X.
(When in reality God wanted to speak to you through Y.)
With that being said, I encourage you to ask God for a sign that He hears you or even of just His existence in general.
Now you may be thinking, "how do I know whats a sign?" or "how will I know if it's from God?"
Trust me...you'll know.
"Laughter is the best medicine in the world."
This one will be a tad bit controversial for the Religious.
God is actually funny.
From the very beginning, we were created in God’s image.
With that in consideration, if we have a sense of humor, then wouldn't the One who created us have a sense of humor as well?
When it comes to BOTH the Religious & the Non-Believers: they share something in common.
The portrayal of God as a vengeful, angry God who fixates on being obeyed and on their un repented sins.
This view, of course, comes from out-of-context Scripture, human perception, and harmful theology infested with the Religious Spirit.
This perception is one that fades with EASE when you begin to develop a true connection with Christ.
I say Christ because God reveals His humor through Jesus.
The Son of God, but more importantly, the human manifestation of God.
God created Jesus strategically with a Divine Mission. Throughout the course of His ministry, death, and resurrection — He was both fully God and fully man. (John 1:14).
He experienced the same emotions (John 11:35) and temptations as us. (Matthew 4:1-11).
In fact, even in the Bible itself do they reference Jesus having so much fun with His disciples, so much fun in fact that He was accused of being a “glutton” and a “drunkard” (Luke 7:34).
In simple terms: Jesus was that guy.
When you start talking to Him, I can promise you a friendship that fulfills every need. Including: JOY, INSIDE JOKES, & LAUGHTER.
When you take that first step of asking God to reveal Himself...maybe even ask Him for a way that makes you laugh or shows His sense of humor.
spon·ta·ne·ous (of a person)- having an open, natural, and uninhibited manner.
God is spontaneous in many ways.
Including: the way He shows up, the way He reveals Himself, and the way He performs miracles.
In fact, I believe He wants US to be spontaneous too.
My first encounter with God (at least the first one that shook me) occurred on a mission trip that was a very spontaneous decision to take in the first place.
Considering I did not know God at the time, I spent the ENTIRE week feeling like an outcast.
I was a skeptic, surrounded by believers, reading scriptures and attending sermons I didn't understand with Christians who I didn't relate to.
When I say God waited until the LAST MINUTE of this ENTIRE trip to reveal His existence to me in the most spontaneous, unexpected way possible.
The service was given in Spanish (a language I cannot speak or understand) and THAT was when God decided to speak. (Not even in MY language?)
This story requires a lot more explaining to truly understand the depth of the occurence, but to put it simply: it was a unexplainable FEELING.
An energetic presence that overtook me, & dropped me to my knees. (I'm going to leave it at that for now.)
The point is God has a funny way of doing things & He loves nothing more than the unexpected.
(Trust me, I have 100 stories similar to this one.)
He loves to show up in creation, in synchronicities, in unexpected situations, & unexpected people.
Another thing that ANY good relationship requires.
If you consider a friendship, it requires communication to keep the friendship alive, and to understand each other better.
If you consider a romantic partnership, it requires good communication to even last.
Say you have a relationship with someone (friend or partner) but you never talk.
Is there a relationship there?
Or perhaps, they text you all the time but you don't answer.
When we consider a relationship with God, we should also consider these things.
How many times has God called you, and you didn't answer?
Maybe you were too busy to notice, too distracted to care, or the voices in your head were too loud to even hear His whispers...
Whether you believe so or not, God is BEGGING for your attention.
His greatest desire is for His Child to Choose Him back.
To Seek Him, to Pursue Him.
The thing is God knows you PERSONALLY.
Therefore, He wants you to know Him personally. It only makes sense right?
He doesn't just exist for you to merely "believe" in His existence or to only talk to him when something goes wrong in your life.
(This is coming from the POV of the former agnostic who only talked to God when I had my face in the toilet after a night of binge drinking..."please God, I promise I won't do it again.)
I think He found that quite funny too.
How do we expect to "hear from God" when we aren't making efforts to communicate with Him?
Ditch scripted prayer and go for conversation instead.
The thing about God is you can talk to Him anywhere at anytime.
However, if you really want to tune into His presence- I recommend somewhere quiet.
Personally, I like to go on "Walks with God" where I walk alone in the woods or in my neighborhood and literally talk out loud to Jesus as if He is next to me.
(Yes, I am aware what this may look like to others)
(Yes, I have pretended I was on the phone one too many times.)
If this sounds too weird for you, maybe just try it in your room.
Remember- God already knows you.
Therefore, You don't have to sound any certain way or pretend to be anything other than yourself. Just talk to Him like He is your friend, like He is present, & hears every word.
Say you have a friend...one that only calls you when they need something...never to check on you and especially not to have meaningful conversation...
Eventually, what happens to this relationship? Personally, I don't prefer to keep around friends like this at this stage in my life.
A good friendship requires consistency & stability.
Consistency in communication. Consistency in the way you are treated, listened to, etc.
If the relationship is strong enough- you don't have to talk everyday.
However, if the relationship isn't strong- it creates uncertainty when time gets lost without speaking. The less involved you are in each others lives, the more you grow apart...it creates space in the relationship.
Unfortunately, this often results in the relationship ending all together.
The thing is God already knows everything about your life, he knows your struggles, he hears the desires of your heart...of course we still share these things with Him, but it is silly to only go to God when it something goes wrong or when we need something.
(Especially, considering He saw it coming ;) God wants you to know about HIM too.