This is one of the best questions you can ever ask. This is a great question to ask over and over. Even in times when you are frustrated, this question can help you navigate your situation. Just dealing with problems with the mindset that God is trying to grow you, and reveal Himself to you, can be helpful. Love this question. Become familiar with this question. Ask this question constantly.
With any relationship the key is communication. Communicating is the foundation of any relationship. Think about it, isn’t it easier to be friends with people you are around every day? Have you ever moved? It’s hard to leave your friends, and you have to work really hard to stay in contact with them. We call, text, message, Skype, and visit to keep those relationships going. When someone is communicating with us, and we are communicating back it satisfies the most basic need of the human soul, to know others and be known.
It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who isn’t around. when people don’t spend time with us, it’s easy to think that we are not important to them, or not the most important thing in their life. We sometimes have this mindset of absence when it comes to God. We either think that He is some invisible entity in far out space, or some huge God that doesn’t have time for us. We think that we are not important, or that He has better things to do than care about little ‘ol us. These views of God can lead to some frustrations or misunderstandings about communicating with God.
There is no magical prayer that gets God attention. There is no mantra that gets you to the front of the line to talk to God. He is always available. He hears your every thought. He knows you better than you know yourself. His knowledge of you even goes beyond the here and now! He knows your every day, to the end of time, He has seen and knows.
Which brings up another great question, if God knows everything, than why do we need to pray to Him? (We’ll talk about that in another post)
So let’s think of our relationship with God like a seed. We want to see this seed grow into something great. You might not be sure what kind of seed it is, so you don’t know what it will grow into, but that’s the adventure! So let’s say you take this seed and plant it. I would say that good soil is like communication. Your relationship will only grow if it is surrounded with good communication. We need to be talking to God and listening to Him.
God’s speaks to us in many ways. The most basic way that God talks to us is though the Bible. There are many stories and teachings in the bible that are just as relevant today as the days they were written. Gods truth is timeless. If you have worries or questions for God about your life, or decisions you need to make, chances are, you can find the answer in the Bible. I had a shop teacher in junior high that even found a diet in the old testament that helped him bring his health back to normal. A college professor of mine once told me that 98% of how we should live our lives is outlined in the bible, and if we are following that 98% than the 2% will work itself out. Read your bible. As you become familiar with it, you will begin to hear God’s voice all around you. Surround yourself in Gods word and His wisdom and truth will guide you and nourish your life.
Just because you communicate with God doesn’t always mean that you are growing in your relationship with Him. (I know a lot of people that know the Bible very well and still have no idea what God’s voice sounds like.) No, there are two other key ingredient to growing your relationship “seed” with God: Water and Sunlight.
Water brings about nutrient and helps fortify the cells of the plant. This is the purpose of a Church. A group of fellow believers around you to help fortify you, encourage you, strengthen you, and help you grow. to usher about the growth that God wants for your life. Water helps a plant become what God designed it to be, a good church will do the same for you. I can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard the phrase, “I feel so distant from God” come from the mouths of people that only gather at Church once a month. You need a community of believers in your life just as a plant needs water. If you are thirsty to grow in your relationship with God, may i suggest drinking in the fellowship of believers.
Sunlight is the agent of change for plants. Sunlight is the trigger for certain chemicals in plants to begin a process of conversion. Most photosynthetic organisms convert carbon monoxide to oxygen. This transformation that is crucial for the growth of the plant is only brought about by the presence of sunlight. Trials and tribulations in our relationship with God are a lot like sunlight to a plant. They bring about a necessary process in our life. Difficult situations in our lives force us to change or adapt. This process of change is sometimes hurtful, but ultimately a necessary catalyst of change. When we find ourselves facing a death of a loved one, a financial catastrophe, a physical impairment, we are forced to look at our values, our world view, our convictions and out beliefs to help us navigate, reason, and even justify who we need to be in order to handle and survive the situation. And just as a plants process of photosynthesis helps other organisms out (plants breathe in what humans breathe out, and convert it into what we humans breathe in), hardships in our lives can help those around us. Yes, you grew up in a terribly abusive home, but that makes you better suited to help others around you that may be experiencing the same family dynamics. Yes, you lost all your money, but that makes you a great resource of what NOT to do with money for those who also don’t know what to do with it. Can you see how hard times can not only change us, but potentially make us better? this is why James writes:
“Count it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because we know that the testing of our faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must run it’s course so that we may become complete, lacking in nothing.” -James 1:2-4
Some plants need more water than others. Some plants need less Sunlight than others. Your relationship with God is as unique as your fingerprints. Don’t allow anyone to tell you how to interact with your God. Not even me. Make sure that these three elements of communication (soil), a community of faith (water), and trials (Sunlight) are a constant part of your life, but you communicate how ever you need to. You attend a church that comforts and challenges you. You allow your personal experiences to shape you, and not define you. At the end of the world, you will need to give an account of how you lived your life, and you can’t be pointing fingers saying, “well, he told me to do this”, or “she taught me to live like this”. YOU are going to be accountable for YOUR decisions
But what if I was mislead?
What if I was taught wrong doctrine by a bad pastor?
What if I miss understand scripture?
What if I have good communication with God, am deeply connected with fellow believers, and count ever trial as pure joy but still wonder if I am growing in my relationship with God? What then? Hu?
If all of our relationships with God are different, than how can any of us know for certain that we are on the right path?
If God isn’t going to step down here out of heaven and verbally tell me what he wants, how can i know for certain that I am becoming who he destined me to be?
(I really hope you are feeling this tension.)
The answer is very simple. Your relationship with God has a purpose: to bear fruit. Just as an apple tree lives to produce apples, your relationship with God exists to bring about the fruit of the spirit. How do we know if an apple tree is healthy? It bears good fruit. How can we know that we are growing in the right direction with our God? We bear Good fruit.
“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23
So is your communication with God bringing about gentleness and kindness?
Is your time with your fellow believers bringing about joy, love and patience?
Are the trials in your life helping you express goodness, self-control and faithfulness?
If yes, than rest assured that you are on the right path. Continue to live as you are, but constantly take inventory of your life and make sure you are still producing this fruit!
If you answered NO to any of the above questions, than perhaps you need to look at the three elements of a good relationship with God. Hows your communication? are you listening? are you talking? How are things at Church? Are you involved? Are you a consumer or a contributor to your community of faith? How are you dealing with tough situations in your life? Are you just trying to get through them, or are you expecting God to show up and receive glory?
Either way, continue to ask this question, “How do I grow in my relationship with God?” It’s a question with a golden answer…
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will beopened to you.” – Matthew 7:7