For as long as I can remember, I have believed that God does indeed exist. I cannot recall ever doubting the reality of God or questioning His supremacy over me and all of His good Creation. Yet for many years I had very little realization of God’s actual presence in this world and His active participation in our lives today.

From childhood through the first half of my adulthood, my knowledge of God remained virtually unchanged. As sad as that is to say, I do believe that statement to be factual. I had attended a weekly youth group all through my high school years, maintained fairly regular church attendance during my college years and participated in a monthly women’s circle during my early years of motherhood. Yet as far as I am aware, not one of those activities ever led to positive, significant changes in the way that I was living out my life as a Christian in this world or in the depth my relationship with God, which was “respectfully distant.” Other than whatever understanding I may have gained from the maturing of my thought processes during those years, what I had known about God at an early age was still essentially the extent of what I knew about Him decades later. 

My knowledge of God at that time consisted essentially of what I had learned while attending Sunday school and Vacation Bible School during my early elementary school years. What I learned about God in those simple lessons became the basis of my belief system for a large portion of my life. This was due to the occurrence at that time of a major upheaval within my family that led to many changes in my life, including drastically reduced church attendance. So plentiful was all that I did not yet know about God, that the little that I did know left me with an image of God that was sketchy at best and definitely way out of kilter.

Here is what I knew (or at least believed) with regard to God:  I believed (as do many people today) that “out there somewhere” is an enormously large and powerful Being named God. Wherever that “somewhere” is, it is a place that we cannot see from here (the earth). But though I cannot see God, God can and does see each and every one of us to such a degree, in fact, that God knows everything that we all do and everything that we all say over our entire lives.

To a child and possibly to some adults, as well, this can be rather disconcerting.  After all, God doesn’t sound much different than Santa Claus aqt this point. And since Santa is said to keep a list of our “naughties” and “nices” in order to determine who gets gifts and who gets coal on Christmas morning – then the likelihood of God keeping His own similar list of who is “good” and who is not seems pretty good, doesn’t it? 

the day when the birth of Jesus—the Son of God—is celebrated,

i know the Truth about the attributes of His character and nature. That made a very large and mighty God rather scary. So even though I had learned early on that God is good and loving, no one had ever apparently thought to define those words for me. I could only haphazard a guess at times as to whether I was “good enough” or not to be pleasing to God and then keep on trying to be a “pretty good” person. So without the knowledge of God’s grace, I had little awareness of either God’s good and loving Presence or His active working power in my life and in the lives of others.

For many years, my hope in God—a hope to which I admit not having been one hundred percent certain—was basically that I would one day be allowed to enter heaven. Though my church attendance was fairly regular throughout the years and I prayed whenever need dictated the necessity, my worship and prayers were essentially two dimensional: flat. At the time, they couldn’t have been any more than they were because they lacked the life that is received in true communion with God. The fact is that my communion with God was on the light side.

As a child, I had attended Sunday school often, and as a teenager, I had confessed Jesus as Savior. But once that was done, I was essentially left hanging by people who didn’t know much more about having a personal relationship with God than I did. I didn’t know that I could personally come to know God, nor did I know that God wanted me to grow to know Him. I didn’t know the depth of my need for God, nor did I know that God had placed Himself within my reach. I didn’t know that His Hand was already on me, as He waited patiently for my attention to turn foremost to Him. The shortfall in my relationship with God was all on my end, and God alone had the means to overcome it.

About eight years ago, God signaled His Presence to me in a way that would have been impossible for me not to have noticed. He gave me a personal “Damascus Road experience.” As I stood with my head bowed and my eyes closed before a young pastor, who was laying hands on me in prayer, a sudden flash of bright white light caused my eyes to fling open and my body to reel backwards in great surprise. In that moment, as the light dispelled the darkness, I became certain of this:  Whatever had just happened, no one but God could have been behind it. I had no other explanation than to realize that there is a God who I did not know and that He was involving Himself with me.

In accepting that fact, I accepted a change in my thinking that opened my mind and life to new possibilities. From that one God-given supernatural experience, a question relative to God arose within me to take precedence over all other concerns. That question that I continue carrying with me is this:  What do I not know about the here and now reality of God that I am missing out on?

What I did know at that moment was this:  I wanted to know more. At first I simply wanted to know more about the God to whom the flash of light had introduced me. But the more that I witnessed the Truth—the Truth that God was Present and working in people’s lives in ways that superseded their natural abilities, the more that I wanted God participating similarly in my life. Simply knowing about God was no longer sufficient. The more that I came to know about Him, the more that I wanted to experience Him up close and personal. The desire turned out to be exactly what God wanted all along.

While God has always known all about me, I had everything to learn about God, and repeatedly He has proven how much He loves being my Teacher. So as I began allotting more time to hearing what God had to say, He began redrawing the erroneous picture that had formed in my mind of what “the normal Christian life” looks like.

With God adjusting my thinking, Scripture took on new and deeper meaning in my reading of it. At times, the words seemed to jump off the Bible’s pages in a life of their own, causing me to literally jump out of my seat in praise of God. Additionally, the inner second-person voice of God began standing out more distinctly from my own thoughts, as I came to more readily recognize His concise directness. And twice thus far, for whatever reasons God deemed best, I have heard His Words delivered via a booming, audible voice that I could not miss hearing.

This is the God I have come to know.

He is the God who gives words of knowledge for the welfare of others and words of wisdom for the wellbeing of all. He speaks prophetically, both to us and through us, increasing our understanding and giving us direction. He enables His Words to flow from our mouths.

This is the God I have come to know.

He is the God who speaks through dreams when we are asleep and through revelatory visions when we are awake. Day and night, He gives discernment, enabling us to distinguish between good and evil.

This is the God I have come to know.

He is the God who hears our prayers and who responds when we call upon Him. He is the God who delights in fulfilling our desires beyond our needs, and in surprising us with bonus gifts to boot.

This is the God I have come to know.

He is the God who restores souls, by correcting thinking and healing hearts. He is the God who heals physical bodies, even doing so miraculously, as I have three times experienced. He is the God of all Creation who is still doing creative miracles, one of which I have also received.

This is the God I have come to know:  the God of the Bible—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of Peter, John and Paul.

One God who does not change:  This is the God who I now know.

Thanks be to our God who is with and for us all! Praise God!