Sean R. Foster
Being a Christian in today’s world can be tough. We want to live our lives and enjoy the pleasures of the world, yet we have that constant reminder that we are supposed to be in the world, but not of it. I do not know about you, but it seems a bit confusing and downright contradictory. Thankfully, we are not without the answers and Jesus has them all for us, but we must be willing to ask of Him and not be afraid to seek Him for everything we do.
You might be saying to yourself that all the answers we need are in the Bible and you are not wrong at all. The Word of God is not just a book that we pick up on Sundays. The Word is alive and can be a bigger part of our lives than we could imagine. Jesus can be a bigger part of our lives and we cannot forget that the Word of God is God just as much as Jesus is God. The problem that I have run into is that many of us have a relationship with our church or our pastors than we do with Jesus. When I first became a Christian that was how I was too, and we all start somewhere. That “honeymoon” phase of being newly saved is an exciting time. Everything is new and fresh, and we are so excited about everything until the first tragedy strikes.
Our enemy, the devil, wants to discourage us and break us down from that first bit of excitement and make us regret our choice to follow Jesus. It happens to all of us, and it can be hard to recover from that first setback. The good news is that Jesus never gave up on us. He has always been there waiting for us to just reach out to Him and allow Him to be a bigger part of our lives. What I had to learn was that the relationship between us and Jesus is personal. Not just the word, but the whole thing. This level of relationship has been documented a few times in scripture. It says that Enoch walked with God and then God took him. (“More Biblical Names And Meanings – Pursuing Intimacy With God”) It was said that Moses and God spoke “mouth to mouth” with each other. Elijah was taken up in a chariot of fire. King Davis was a man after God’s own heart. The one thing I used to wonder was how can I have a relationship with God like that?
I grew up in church. It was a part of everything we did as kids, but I found out that I did not have what those in the Bible had and I wanted more. I did not know what I was going, but all I knew that the Bible said that if you look for God, you will find Him. All I knew was that the Bible was real, prayer was real and since I had grown up as a choir director and later worship leader that worship was real. I put everything I knew into going to and serving in church and it was great! I felt closer to God more that I ever had before, but I remember still wanting more. That is when tragedy struck, and I experienced some challenging times. I hit rock bottom and I even stopped going to church. I was depressed and everything seemed hopeless. I remember crying and alone in my home and I started to pray, and I was venting to God. One rant after another I told God everything I was feeling. Then something interesting started to happen. I realized that as bad as it had been, things could be worse. I started to thank God that I was not where I could be at that moment.
My gratitude went from the things that I had or did not have to being thankful for God just being God. I plunged into that gratitude and my prayers transformed into worship. There was just silence in the room besides my voice. There was not any music playing and I was not in church. I connected with God to a point that I did not even notice time passing by. After my encounter with God, I came to the realization that hours had passed by, and it was daytime when it all started, and it was now after sunset. No gimmicks, no catch phrases, and no foolishness. It was just me and God and I had peace flooding my soul. I went right back to church and worship was even more meaningful and more real to me.
My prayer life changed after that. I felt that I could talk to God about anything, and I started to hear His Voice more clearly. I started to have regular time with God and wanted to go deeper and deeper into His Presence. Jesus became so real and so relevant in my life that no matter what happened to me I had hope. God had transformed my life and my outlook. I now had a relationship with Him that was beyond just what a church could offer me. Do not get me wrong, I love church and I love the fellowship with others who are in Christ and that will not ever change. The Body of Christ is necessary and needed more than ever today. We need each other and we need to have God in our lives on a deep, personal level. Because Jesus and I are closer I can enjoy life because I do not fear whatever comes in my direction. We can do things in the world and if Christ is with us, He will guide us into the right ways to live.
Being saved and being close to Jesus does not mean we have to never enjoy anything. We do not have to worry about going the wrong way or doing the wrong things if we have a close relationship with Jesus. God made all the world for us to enjoy and there are ways to enjoy that world the way the He intended. Living my best life is not just about pleasing the body or the human self, but it becomes about pleasing God. He will give us our best life once we give Him our life.