“God is not an abstract category by which even the Christian understanding of the word can be measured, but he who is called God is the one God, the single God, the sole God.” -Karl Barth
“How was your fellowship with the Lord this last week?”
[disappointedly] “Well, I only spent about 10 minutes of quiet time”
This is a similar conversation that I would find myself having with other women. I took turns being on both sides, asking and answering in similar ways throughout college, the place where I started walking with Jesus and where I was taught how to read the bible. Whenever I was asked this question, I would answer with how long I spent in my bible or in prayer. Whenever I asked that question, it would come in a response of a “what” rather than a “how”.
I was never taught to replace my ‘how’ with ‘what’. No one ever told me flat out that this is how you determine your fellowship and connection with God. But somehow, I took on that view and as I listened more to others around me, they had done the same.
Focusing on the “what” instead of the “how” would lead me to disappointment, frustration, and coveting other people’s journeys and times with the Lord. Always comparing usually left me feeling shameful and guilty. If I was running late that day and only had about 5-10 minutes to read my bible, it wasn’t worth it to me! It made me not want to do it at all. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly where the enemy wants us. He convinces us that in our frustration and comparison, it’s not worth it and there’s no point.
The beauty of the Gospel is that it’s constant. You can’t pick out some pieces and add anything in or only take what you want. In its entirety, it’s perfect, simple, deep, and overwhelming.
“To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret” – William R. Newell
That’s the beauty of The Gospel.
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The Gospel is about Luke 4:18-19, that Jesus has set people free from everything that you feel has entangled you and prevented you from believing in the freedom you have in Christ. Make a mental list of the things you have the hardest time believing God has set you free from.
The Gospel doesn’t change. We all need it. God uses it to relate to our unique situations, bondages, and make-ups. All differently, yet with the same powerful message: God meets us where we are in the Gospel message.
Similarly, God also makes the time we spend with him look equally and powerfully unique. Isn’t it fascinating to think of the way we worship and connect with God as unique and different than the next follower of Jesus? That He meets us where we are as we abide in Him?
Never underestimate the power of God’s word. It is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). This is what the “how” can look like in our lives: Soak in His Word, mark it up, highlight, underline the words like a madwoman, memorize it, take it with you to the battlefield — however the Spirit leads you. It is important and invaluable to your walk and fellowship with The Lord. So, even if you aren’t feeling like reading you bible or praying, that’s where we learn to walk in discipline.
To my great surprise, I found out this past year that my #1 way to connect with God is through intellect. I never would have guessed that, but the more I thought about it, I looked back on my walk with The Lord and remembered how hype I get when I make a connection in my mind about who The Lord is and when I learn something new about Him.
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
Early on, I became fascinated and interested in apologetics, commentary, and theology. For example, there are different parts in the bible that speak on behalf of God’s covenant with Abram. As I’ve discovered more about this covenant, I learned something this last year that blew my mind. In Genesis 15, the Gospel is clearly talked about.
This is amazing! Only 12 chapters after the fall of man, God is making a covenant with Abram, saying “You’re going to mess up and fail, you won’t be able to keep this covenant.” BUT, God being great in his mercy (Ephesians 2:4-8) decided to come to us, through Jesus. And die in the place that Abram should have taken because of his failure in his part of the covenant. Jesus coming was clearly not an afterthought. It was planned all along.
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
I encourage you to dig through this passage and learn more about the cultural context and what the significance of lining up animals that are cut in half and what it meant to walk in between them. It’s a little different than a pinky promise exchange!
As I learned this, my affection for God grew. I became more convinced that He is truly in control, and there is nothing that goes past Him that He does not know or has His hand over. This includes the things that I am anxious and worry about tomorrow. This includes our entire lives. Making connections like the one above from Genesis 15 is my “how” and that has freed me up to connect and go deeper with God.
Never forget- there is nothing you can do or cannot do that will change God’s pursuit and love for you. It is perfect, intimate, near, and full. He’s after your heart. It’s about the “how.” How you’re experiencing The Gospel in each moment and how God has created you uniquely to connect with Him. It’s not based on what others are experiencing or what you think you should be experiencing.