Written by Sherika Chew, Director of Marriage & Family Ministry

sunset field

I’ve spent most of my Christian walk trying to be a good person—someone who God could be proud of, and that others would respect. But it’s a very heavy burden and, honestly, flat-out stressful to carry.

I had heard it preached a million times that everything I was striving for was already mine and just waiting to unfold for me. Occasionally, I would see seasons of this starting to manifest in my life, but overall, it definitely wasn’t my experience. No matter how many times I quoted Matthew 6:33 and told myself that, if I could just seek Him first, all other things would be added unto me, the concept didn’t fully connect.

It wasn’t until I finally embraced the truth of God’s love for me that I began to fully experience its reality.

This is something with which so many followers of Christ struggle. We know in theory that everything we do should flow from our comprehension of God’s love for us. But how, in practice, do we gain that understanding? How do we make it sink in? How do we move from a surface level of mere acquaintanceship with God to a deeper level where we love Him sacrificially, and desire to know Him and His heart above anything else?

Have you ever met someone who seems to truly know God—who seems to live from a tangible, everyday experience of His presence? Do you ever find yourself wondering why, after years of doing all the “right” things, you are no closer to this level of intimacy? It can be so frustrating to have these realizations and questions. But at the end of the day, we can’t simply manufacture intimacy with God. Either we get it, or we don’t; either it’s genuine, or it’s not.

God Calls Us to Relationships With Others

Recently, I was reading through the book of Genesis, and found myself in a feverish search for direct instructions from God to Adam and Eve to seek communion with Him. God had been confirming to me, over and over, that rest and relationship were key, so it made sense to me that it would have been part of His first set of instructions.

But instead, His instructions were to “be fruitful and multiply.”

“Be fruitful and multiply” sounds like work to me, not relationship. It seemed to contradict my whole new theology of “being” over “doing.” I felt like His instructions should have been more along the lines of “abide in me,” or “know my love.”

I know that rest and work in the Kingdom are not polar opposites the way they are in our human understanding. But having recently been freed from a mindset of striving, it seemed strange for Genesis to come along and tell me there was just one more thing to do. It was, needless to say, very confusing.

Yet a few weeks later, I was talking with a friend who was angry about the way our society seems to blatantly attack the institution of marriage and family. He was expressing how sad he found it that so many young people have decided that marriage is an outdated practice, and that many no longer even desire to have children.

As I began to share in his sentiment and explain to him how much my relationship with my husband and my children has shaped me, God reminded me of a particular Sunday service when I had been feeling bogged down and overwhelmed with condemnation. I remembered asking God why He kept pursuing me when I was obviously such a mess.

He had answered by reminding me of the birth of my first daughter, which was literally a near-death experience for me; there were many complications, and it was terrifying and painful. And yet it was entirely worth it. So worth it, in fact, that when I was surprised with the news of a second pregnancy, I was willing to do it all over again. Even now that my children are teenagers, and even after having experienced the lovely and not-so- lovely ups and downs of parenting teenagers, I would still do it all again.  Parenting my children has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

And at that realization, He said, “This is how I love you, Sherika.”

And somehow it all made sense.

The way I instinctively want my children to know, do, and have more than I did as a child helps me understand why God is so determined to write His purpose all over my life. The way I desire for my children be my legacy and carry my likeness helps me understand why He wants me to bear His image and show His glory in the earth. I’m willing to lay down everything for my children; how much more would God do this for me?

How His Love Changes Us

I began to wonder: what if God’s command to be fruitful and multiply was inherent in His command to know His love? What if God called Adam and Eve into relationship with one another so they would have this example of intimacy with which to respond to Him?

Is it possible that Satan knows what would happen if we ever fully allowed God to guide how we walk out our relationships with each other? What if bitterness and unforgiveness were not only direct attacks against our relationships, but efforts to keep us from fully experiencing the Father’s heart, and from understanding true relationship with Him?

Loving the Father is a direct result of understanding and receiving His love for us. We only love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). But more often than not, we simply don’t get it. Is it possible that we struggle so much with this because the examples God has given us are all broken? God’s desire is that we experience His love within the context of community in our churches and families and friendships. Is it possible that the more we are able to, like God, give and receive sacrificial and unconditional love with the people in our lives, the more we would know exactly how much the Father loves us? Would we be able to genuinely love Him back?

Maybe God didn’t demand intimacy in the way that we understand demands. Maybe, just maybe, buried deep within His first command to us, we can find the tools we need to begin a journey toward understanding true intimacy with Him.

Then intimacy with God would be not forced onto us, or devised out of our own strength. Rather, it would follow that it is naturally birthed into our hearts, allowing our lives to be fruitful and multiply in ways we could never imagine without Him.

Is the Lord calling you to new levels of intimacy with Him? How could that change your spiritual walk, and your life? If you’re looking for new ways to connect with God, consider signing up for the 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice class, which Sherika will be leading, starting Aug. 31, 2017.

You can also make a prayer counseling appointment with Finding Home Institute today. To schedule an appointment, email us at info@findinghomeinstitute.org (preferred) or call (571) 393-1278. You will receive a response in no later than 1 business day.

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