When I was growing up in France, my grade school classmates could always be counted on to ask me one of two questions upon finding out that I was American:
- Do you eat hamburgers every day for lunch and dinner?
- Do you know Michael Jackson?
Both questions were absurd enough to make me laugh! Of course I didn’t eat hamburgers every day, and of course I didn’t know Michael Jackson. I knew OF Michael Jackson. I could tell you some things I had learned about him, like that he could moonwalk and had four siblings.
You see, there’s a difference between knowing someone and knowing ABOUT someone. One type of knowing is based on dry facts. The other kind of knowing implies an intimate connection based on a shared relationship. It is a knowing based on experience.
In Sunday school, we learn about God. We know OF him. But as we mature in our life and in our faith, we come to know God on a deeper level: we experience his truth in our lives in a very real way. I can learn that God provides for his people, but until I experience it, I don’t fully know it. I know it when I get that job I really needed and prayed for. I can learn about a God who saves, but I won’t know it until he reaches down to me when I’m in desperate need of rescue. I can know about a God who forgives, but until I make a huge mistake, I won’t truly understand the power of his forgiveness.
When we experience God at work in our lives, that is when we begin to know him on a deeper level. It’s only then that our knowledge moves from hearsay to intimate relationship. And then we can share of his wonderful deeds, coming from the confidence of experiencing him firsthand.
In church last week, I was challenged to think about how I know God. Do I know of him or do I truly know him? What have I experienced to be true about him in my own life? How has he worked in my life? When have I encountered his faithfulness, his mercy, his provision? My answers to these questions will reveal what I think about God, how I’ve known him.
I want to be able to say that I’ve experienced Jesus in every arena of my life. And to do so, I must be on the lookout, tuning my eyes to see him in my everyday life, and seeking out ways to hear from him.
To experience Jesus is not to encounter him once and presume to know him. It is a lifelong journey of walking with him and growing closer to him.
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8 thoughts on “How do you know God?”
A lifelong journey indeed! Thanks so much for your insight 😊
Sarah, I love this! It is so important to take the leap from, “knowing of God” to having a personal relationship with him. What a great reminder of the importance of being intentional of where it counts…in our eternity!
Knowing God in a personal level takes things up a notch. It is such a huge journey to learning about Him, and, in the process, learning about ourselves and who He needs us to be.
Thanks for bringing this truth to light, Sarah! I just noticed you’re a special education teacher turned ministry leader. I, too, and a special education teacher who has been called to step out of the classroom for a season of ministering to others, mentoring, and raising my own little flock of children!
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How fun is that!!! As much as I loved teaching, I’m so glad for this current season 🙂
Yes! This is an important distinction. There are aspects of God’s character I know deeply enough that no one could convince me otherwise. And it’s because I’ve experienced them. The difficulty is that most of this intimate knowledge comes through some form of suffering. But it’s that deepening knowledge of Him that makes our suffering so worthwhile!
So true! Suffering is our greatest teacher!