My 34th (Spiritual) Birthday

Earlier this week . . . September 19th . . . was the anniversary of the night I walked out in the backyard of my house and cried out to God for the first time in my life. Oh, I’d been a “Christian” since 5th grade. I’d been to church at least a thousand times. Baptized. Taught Sunday School. The whole bit. But God didn’t make any difference in my life. I knew about Jesus and I believed the story about Jesus but I didn’t have any real faith in Jesus. I didn’t know God personally. Not really.

There’s a big difference in believing stuff about someone and believing in someone. The first simply requires enough intelligence to hear the words of the Gospel and say, “Okay, I believe that!” “I believe Jesus was God’s son and he died on a cross and came back to life.” I started to believe that when I was 12 years old. But it was intellectual . . . maybe even spiritual, but not relational. Believing in someone requires a relationship. You can’t have a relationship with an idea. Or a set of rules. Or the Bible, even though it’s divinely inspired. You can’t have a relationship with theology or a belief system, no matter how good or true it is. You can’t have a relationship with a church, no matter how great. Relationships are only possible between individual living things. And God is one of those.

I’ve done the ‘pathology’ on what happened that evening so long ago. Did surrendering bring humility to my proud heart? Yes. Did accepting the Father’s forgiveness set me free from a ton of guilt and shame? Absolutely. Did I instantly switch from a heart of criticism to a heart of gratitude? Without a doubt. All these things happened that night. Not over a few days, weeks or months. It was instant.

But the game-changer was grasping that God . . . the Creator of the universe . . . loves me. He wanted more for me than just salvation; He wanted me to embrace Him as Father! I cried out that night . . . I said, “God, I’m yours. I want what you want for my life. I accept your forgiveness and from now on, it’s you and me God. No matter what happens, it’s you and me!” Something changed in me from that conversation. God was suddenly real. I knew He heard me, maybe for the very first time. I started to pray, talking to Him as if He were right beside me. I knew He was hearing me and for most of the 12,421 days since that night, I’ve known He’s been right here with me.

Lately, I’ve been reading about emotional connection in marriage. I’m wondering how many Christians have an emotional connection with their Father in heaven. Do you tear up thinking of times God has shown up in your life? Do you have a deep-seated peace in your heart when things get really, really tough?

I know I didn’t before that September night. I know I have ever since.

Jesus told us to think of God as our Father. Do you? Have you grasped that your Heavenly Father is crazy about you? That He wants a real relationship with you? Tell Him. Stop ‘praying prayers’ and start talking to your Heavenly Dad. Maybe you can tell Him what I told Him if you’re ready to go all-in.

You’ll find He’s waiting to hear from you so the two of you can start a real relationship! He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. 

Scripture: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

Mentor Tip: None of us can export what we don’t have. If you don’t have an honest-to-goodness relationship with God, get on your knees and tell Him! Ask Him to be your Father. Start talking to Him and listening for His voice as you read Scripture and sit quietly before Him. Nothing would be more impactful for those you’re mentoring than for you to connect with God in an authentic relationship for the first time and then tell them about it. They would think more of you, not less.

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