When we begin our relationship with God, it is usually because someone tells us about how their life was changed by Him.
Sometimes we start with only the promise from someone else that God will change us. We tend to make our first decision about God with secondhand information. That’s where it ends for many. They either become content with the little they have been told, or they just never realize they can know more.
If we hang out long enough with growing and “hungry-for-more” followers of Jesus, we begin to discover that there is more to this “relationship” than a reserved seat in Heaven. It is possible to know God from our own personal experience.
For instance, when we realize that God wants us to pray directly to Him about specific needs we have, and then see those specific needs met, God becomes personal to us. It has always been His intention to have an individual and personal relationship with each of us.
Have you ever been consciously aware of God “speaking” directly to you through some specific verse in the Bible as you were reading a more lengthy section? Some thought, direction, or encouragement that was exactly what you needed at that moment in your life?
Try this one. Have you ever found yourself being directed or used by God to help someone by an act of sacrificial love or through the use of one of your gifted areas? Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? That is what a personal relationship with God was designed to be.
You might discover, if you think about it, that you have been provided for or protected in some miraculous way on more than one occasion in your life. That unexpected check in the mail, that raise, that new job, that promotion was not luck or good fortune.
How many times has your heart quickened as you narrowly “avoided” what could have been a life-threatening car wreck or some other kind of accident? Luck? You decide.
Skeptics have a hard time making sense of a life that has immediately and radically changed because of a conscious and specific decision to commit that life to knowing and following Jesus. When you notice and see your own life changing, that is “knowing” God yourself. It is now firsthand knowledge that He is real, and cares about you individually.
Remember the story of “Footprints in the Sand?” The man in the story questions Jesus’ presence during the difficult times in his life, because the footprints in the sand representing his life walk with Jesus went from two sets to one during his most difficult life experiences.
“Lord, you said that you would never leave me nor forsake me. You said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way,” he said. “But I have noticed that during the most difficult times in my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.”
Jesus replied, “My son, I want you to know that I love you and that I would never leave you. Look again at those footprints. During your times of trouble and suffering, the footprints you saw were mine. I was carrying you.” Now he knew Jesus as He really was.
Our personal life experiences, if we are attentive, allow us to know God ourselves. When we pray specific prayers, ask for something specifically for us from scripture we read, make ourselves available to God to help others around us and choose to see miracles of provision or protection as divine interventions on our behalf rather than luck or chance, we can declare that we know God personally.
You can know Him firsthand.