I grew up in empty religion. I am not blaming it on my church or my family, it was probably just me. I knew how to talk the talk, pretend in the religious behavior, and in the public light act really righteous. Performance was my middle name… Sunday school, church, Sunday night services, Bible quizzing, mid week service, and the annual revival. Raised hands, memorized verses, sermons listened to (never understood), and worship led often by people who couldn’t sing and sounding like something ancient. I wanted to be seen as a good Christian boy more than I wanted to live like Jesus.
Like many others, eventually I was done with the show. I walked away from church. I saw it as outdated, legalistic, and empty religion. I was tired of the rules, dressing to be someone I wasn’t, and people who I saw as fake.
Then I heard a message about knowing God like I know a friend. I did not know this was possible. I knew the Bible enough to see people in the Bible knowing God like a friend, but I thought they were “special” and I could not know God the way they did. Then the pastor showed how the people of the bible were just regular people with regular problems. He said God loved me and wanted to be my friend. I thought if God was real, He was probably mad at me or had like 7,000,000,000 people on the planet and who was I. Then He showed me how Jesus intentionally went after the people that were not important in the eyes of society. He loved tax collectors, lepers, adulterers, women (property in Jesus time), and races religious people wouldn’t talk to.
This night changed my life. Not all at once, but I began to seek God as my friend believing He wanted to know me and me to know Him. Over time, I learned to hear His voice, understand what He like, and trust Him with the deepest parts of me. He became the Person I went to when I was lost, hurting, afraid, needing council, or just wanted to be filled up. My time with Him is not religion at all, there is no pretending and certainly not earning of any kind. I have screamed, cried, cussed (not proud of this), laughed, and rested. I have found true love, hope, joy, freedom, and a friend. When I miss a day spending time with Him, I do not feel guilty just that I missed out on the best and most important time of my day.
Psalm 42:1 As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Go get alone with Holy Spirit and let Him fill your cup. Don’t get religious or do it out of duty. Just go read scripture, journal, listen, worship, cry, laugh, go on a walk, draw… Go do what you like to do with Him and let him fill your cup!
Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus