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Friendship with the Lord
By Charles F. Stanley
Would you like to know God? Would you like to be sure that you’re following His will? If you are a believer, more than likely your answer is “yes.” But you may not know how. Even if you read your Bible faithfully, pray daily, tithe, and attend church regularly, you may sense that something is lacking in your relationship with Him.
Perhaps you believe God loves you. But have you experienced the depth of His affection in an intimate and personal way? Until you begin to understand His nature and character, a spiritual window shade will remain closed in your life. You may know right from wrong in certain areas, but it’s important to know why God wants you to live a certain way. Once you begin to understand the way the Lord thinks and operates, you will know Him better. You will be able to grasp that He loves you with an eternal love. And as your knowledge of God deepens, your desire to please Him will naturally increase.
What is required?
I believe the Father reveals Himself to those who hunger to know Him. Consider how Moses responded to the burning bush: he drew near to it and was eager to know the one true God. Later he prayed, “If I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You so that I may find favor in Your sight” (Ex. 33:13, emphasis added). It is obvious that Moses had one clear goal: to know his Creator, not simply know about Him. He wanted to relate to God on an intimate level—something much deeper than simply realizing that He exists. Moses’ quest to know the Lord led him to a relationship with the Almighty that changed his life forever.
In order to draw near to God, we must be willing to seek Him fervently, rather than pursuing solely our own comfort or ambitions. For example, David passionately sought the Lord and His ways. He wrote, “As the deer pants for water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2). As a result, he became the person the Lord called “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22 NIV).
And consider Mary, the mother of our Savior—she made a sacrificial choice to surrender to God’s will. When the angel told Mary she would bear a child conceived of the Holy Spirit, she knew obedience would make her life difficult. Yet she replied, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
As Moses, David, and Mary discovered, getting to know God may include walking with Him through life’s darkest valleys. But in these times, we gain tremendous insight into the Father’s character. Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned have come as a result of inexpressible heartache. God could have spared me from disappointment, but that was not His will for my life. He had greater things He wanted to teach me, and they could be learned only through sorrow and suffering.
Should we pray for trouble? No. But when it does strike, I counsel people to ask God to reveal what He wants them to learn through the situation. He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). And as we draw near to the Father, He will reveal “great and mighty things” to our hearts and minds (Jer. 33:3).
What about you?
Perhaps you’ve wondered, Where is God? What is He like? Can I know Him personally? Does He care about me? The good news is that the Lord is here, right now, right beside you. His presence is with you constantly. The Lord calls to you as He did to Moses—inviting you to draw near and learn of His ways so that you may know and experience the depths of His lovingkindness.
My desire is for you to pray, “Let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight” (Ex. 33:13). When you begin to understand God’s mind and the way He works, you suddenly have the right tools to live an abundant life—one that is full and complete. Beyond this, you will have the Holy Spirit abiding within you, and He delights in supplying you with knowledge, love, peace, joy, intimacy, and hope. You will never know all there is to know about the Father’s ways, but you will learn quickly that He is in control and willing to guide you at every turn.
Nothing is more valuable than knowing God. The world may entice you to search for wisdom in any number of ways, but there is only one Source of ultimate truth. He patiently waits to reveal Himself to you.
Adapted from In Step with God: Understanding His Ways and Plans for Your Life (2008).